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ISiSiStbcf Kichard Hooker 


John E. Booty 

The University of the South (ret.) 
Georges Edelen 

Indiana University (ret.) 
Egil Grislis 

The University of Manitoba 
W. Speed Hill 

Lehman College and The Graduate Center, 

The City University of New York 
Arthur Stephen McGrade 

The University of Connecticut 
David Novarr (d. 1987) 

Cornell University 
R. J. Schoeck 

The University of Colorado (ret.) 
P. G. Stanwood 

The University of British Columbia 
Richard S. Sylvester (d. 1978) 

Yale University 
Laetitia Yeandle 

The Folger Shakespeare Library 


T. H. Aston (d. 1985) Robert M. Kingdom 

Herschel Baker (d. 1990) Mortimer Levine 

Arthur E. Barker (d. 1990) Christopher Morris (d. 1993) 

W. D. J. Cargill Thompson (d. 1978) Peter Munz 

Leland Carlson W. O'Sullivan 

Patrick Collinson H. C. Porter 

Horton Davies John M. Steadman 

Powel Mills Dawley (d. 1985) H. R. Trevor-Roper 

A. P. d'Entrcves (d. 1985) Howard Webber 

C. W. Dugmore (d. 1991) James M. Wells 

O. B. Hardison.Jr. (d. 1990) 

Editorial Expenses of this edition have been supported by grants from the Program for Editions 

of the National Endowment for the Humanities, an independent federal agency, and from the 

Research Foundation of the City University of New York. 

The Folger Library Edition 

The Works of Richard Hooker 

W. Speed Hill 
General Editor 

Volume Six, 
Part One 

Richard Hooker 

Of the Laws of 
Ecclesiastical Polity 

Introductions; Commentary, 
Preface and Books I— IV 

W. Speed Hill 

General Editor 

with the assistance of 
Egil Grislis 

John E. Booty, Georges Edelen, 
Lee W. Gibbs, William P. Haugaard & 
Arthur Stephen McGrade 
Contributing Editors 

medieval & Renaissance texts & studies 

Binghamton, New York 

The publication of this volume has been supported 

by a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities, 

an independent federal agency. 

© Copyright 1993 

Center for Medieval and Early Renaissance Studies 

State University of New York at Bingham ton 

Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data 

Richard Hooker. Of die laws of ecclesiastical polity : introductions and commentary 

/ W. Speed Hill, general editor ; John E. Booty ... [et al.], contributing editors, 
p. cm. — (The Folger Library edition of die works of Richard Hooker, v. 6) 
(Medieval & Renaissance Texts & Studies; v. 106) 

Includes bibliographical references and indexes. 

ISBN 0-86698-152-7 

1. Hooker, Richard, 1553 or 1554-1600. Ecclesiastical polity. 2. Church of Eng- 
land— Doctrines— Early Works to 1800. 3. Church polity— Early Works to 1800. 
4. Ecclesiastical law — Early Works to 1800. 5. Anglican Communion — Early Works 
to 1800. 6. Church and state— Great Britain— Early Works to 1800. I. Hill, W. 
Speed (William Speed), 1935- . II. Booty, John E. III. Series. IV. Series: Hooker, 
Richard, 1553 or 1554-1600. Works. 1977; v. 6. 
BX5037.A2 1977 vol. 6 

262.9 ' 83-^lc20 92-34 1 30 



This book is made to last. 

It is set in Bembo, smydie-sewn and printed on acid-free paper 

to library specifications 

Printed in die United States of America 


With the publication of the present volume, the Folger Library Edi- 
tion of the Works of Richard Hooker is, with the exception of the 
Index, which will appear in a separate volume, complete: laus Deo. 
None of its contributors would have anticipated that its gestation 
would take nearly twenty-six years. I date its conception from 
Thanksgiving Friday of 1967 when I composed the initial prospectus 
for submission to the Press of Case Western Reserve University, and 
its formal completion as signalized by a conference held in Washing- 
ton, D.C., September 24-26, 1993, upon the publication of the 
present volume. As a result of the time it has taken to bring out this 
volume, the masthead records the death of two members of the 
Editorial Committee (David Novarr and Richard S. Sylvester), whose 
advice and counsel were invaluable in the early stages of the Edition's 
planning, as well as those of nine members of the Board of Advisors: 
T. H. Aston, Herschel Baker, Arthur E. Barker, W. D. J. Cargill 
Thompson, Powel Mills Dawley, A. P. d'Entreves, C. W. Dugmore, 
O. B. Hardison, Jr., and Christopher Morris. Happily, the contribut- 
ing editors, largely from a younger generation of scholars, have all sur- 
vived to celebrate its completion. 

When the texts of Books I-V of the Lawes of Ecclesiasticall Politie 
were published in 1977, I wrote: "The commentary volumes may be 
expected to appear within a reasonable time after the text volumes 
have all been published" (l:vi). Whether sixteen years is a "reasonable 
time" is open to question, but the texts in volumes 4 (1982) and 5 
(1990) did appear with their associated commentaries. The present 
volume, then, offers introductions to and a commentary on the Lawes 
itself, Hooker's principal achievement, completing the editorial task 
that was started with the publication of the text of Hooker's treatise 
in volumes 1-3 (1977-1981). In addition, it supplies a Chronology of 
Hooker's Life and a Glossary for the texts in volumes 1-5, both 
prepared by Georges Edelen. 

In its long course the Edition has accumulated numerous debts to 
its patrons, sponsors, and supporters. First in that honorable roll-call 
would be O. B. Hardison, Jr., whose untimely death in 1990 deprived 
him of the satisfaction of seeing one of the many seeds he helped plant 



bear fruit. As director-designate of the Folger Shakespeare Library in 
the summer of 1969, it was he who suggested that the Library might 
sponsor the Edition. For four and a half years we enjoyed a modest 
subsidy from the Library's publications fund, and the Editorial Com- 
mittee met annually in its seminar room. Additionally the Library has 
supported individual editors with grants (John E. Booty, Lee W. 
Gibbs, Arthur Stephen McGrade, myself), access to its unrivaled collec- 
tions, and — most important of all — its imprimatur. 

Second in importance to the support of the Folger has been that of 
the Program for Editions of the National Endowment for the Human- 
ities. The NEH took up where the Folger left off, and the bulk of the 
work for the Edition was sustained by three grants 1974—81 and one 
more, 1988—1989. I speak for all my colleagues when I say that with- 
out such support, we would never have completed the Edition. In 
addition, the Faculty Research Award Program (later, the PSC- 
CUNY Research Award Program) of the City University of New 
York awarded me as general editor seven grants over fifteen years. 
These last have supplied the third — and stabilizing — leg of our tripod 
of research support. 

As the Edition was conceived of as collaborative from the onset — 
the preparation of texts and of the commentary on those texts being 
delegated early on to two different sets of contributing editors — one 
of the principal uses for NEH and CUNY support was to subvene 
semi-annual editorial meetings. These took place at various institu- 
tions, and our thanks accordingly are due them for their hospitality: 
The Folger Shakespeare Library, Washington, D. C; The Episcopal 
Divinity School and The Society of St. John the Evangelist, Cam- 
bridge, Massachusetts; and The Seabury-Western Theological Semi- 
nary, Evanston, Illinois. No collaboration perfectly suppresses the 
individuality of its members, and a careful reader will note that the 
various contributions differ modestly in style, scope, and detail, but 
from the perspective of the contributors themselves, this collaboration 
has been indispensable. Each editor's work has had the inestimable 
benefit of close, detailed, and sympathetic scrutiny from his or her 
fellows, allied by a common end and purpose — a sense that can only 
be sustained in such long-term projects by meeting together at regular 
intervals while that work is actively going forward. 

A silent but equally indispensable form of subsidy for work of this 


character is that supplied by those institutions which have employed 
its contributing editors: The Virginia Theological Seminary, The Epis- 
copal Divinity School, and The University of the South (Booty), 
Indiana University (Edelen), Cleveland State University (Gibbs), The 
Seabury-Western Theological Seminary (Haugaard), Lehman College 
and The Graduate Center, CUNY (Hill), and The University of Con- 
necticut (McGrade). 

Publication of scholarly editions involves subsidizing them as well, 
and three presses have been crucially involved with the Edition in its 
twenty-six year history. Howard Webber, director of the Press of Case 
Western Reserve University, encouraged me as a very junior assistant 
professor to submit the original prospectus and enthusiastically nur- 
tured the project at its earliest and most critical stages. Two prelim- 
inary volumes, Richard Hooker: A Descriptive Bibliography of the Early 
Editions 1593-1724 (1970) and Studies in Richard Hooker: Essays Prelim- 
inary to an Edition of his Works (1972) appeared under its imprint 
before the press fell victim to the financial crises of the early 1970s. 
The Harvard University Press, the publisher of volumes 1-5 (1977- 
1990), then assumed responsibility for the Edition. Maud Wilcox, its 
editor-in-chief, and Margaretta Fulton, its humanities editor, were 
particularly helpful in seeing into print a series of volumes that by 
their very nature were expensive to produce and enjoyed a limited 
market. When it became clear that the present volume was going to 
outstrip the resources that Harvard was prepared to commit to it, 
Medieval & Renaissance Texts & Studies, the joint creation of Mario 
Di Cesare and Lee Hoskins at the Center for Medieval and Renais- 
sance Studies, SUNY, Binghamton, stepped forward with an offer to 
publish volume 6 independently of the first five. Only its general 
editor knows how much better a volume the present one is because 
of the skill and attention to detail of their dedicated and energetic staff 
at Binghamton. 

Individual acknowledgements of the contributing editors of this 
volume follow: 

John E. Booty: For research assistants, The Episcopal Divinity 
School, Royal Rhodes, Rex Matthews, and Peggy Shreiner; The 
University of the South, Joel Hufstetler, Berkley Ford, and James 
Anderson. For financial assistance: National Endowment for the Hu- 
manities (Fellowship), The Folger Shakespeare Library (Fellowship), 


the Conant Fund, Episcopal Church (Study Grant). For leaves, sabbat- 
ical and other, secretarial and research assistance, The Virginia Theo- 
logical Seminary, The Episcopal Divinity School, and The University 
of the South. For special assistance with rabbinic references, John 
Townsend (EDS) and Philip Culbertson (Sewanee). The libraries and 
staffs of the British Library, the Bodleian Library (Oxford), Houghton 
Library (Harvard), Beinecke Library (Yale), Rare Books Library (Har- 
vard Law School), Andover-Harvard Library of Harvard Divinity 
School, Episcopal Divinity School- Weston College Library, especially 
James Dunkly, Director of Libraries, and the School of Theology 
Library (Sewanee). Our general editor, the editorial committee, and 
other contributing editors. 

Georges Edelen: In preparing the Chronology of Hooker's Life I 
have had the generous and expert assistance of the staffs of the Exeter, 
Kent, and Wiltshire Records Offices, and of the Bodleian Library. I 
owe a special debt of gratitude to the president and fellows of Corpus 
Christi College, Oxford, and to its librarians, especially the archivist, 
Christine Butler. 

Lee W. Gibbs: I am grateful to several libraries and their staffs where 
research for the commentary and associated introductions was carried 
out: The Folger Shakespeare Library, the Library of Congress, the 
Houghton and Widener Libraries of Harvard University, the Ando- 
ver-Harvard Library of Harvard Divinity School, the Episcopal Divini- 
ty School- Weston College Library, the Freiberger Library of Case 
Western Reserve University, the Gaselli Library of John Carroll 
University, the Woodstock Library of Georgetown University, and the 
Library of Cleveland State University, especially its friendly and effi- 
cient Interlibrary Loan Office. 

I am also deeply in debt for the substantial financial assistance that 
I received from a Folger Shakespeare Library Fellowship (Summer, 
1975), from a Grant for Individual Research and Publication awarded 
by the National Endowment for the Humanities (1977-1978), and 
from a Senior Scholar Award (Summer, 1979) and a Research and 
Creative Activity Expense Grant (Summer, 1982) awarded me by 
Cleveland State University, which also provided generous funding to 
subvene publication costs of this volume. 

Numerous persons have supported and contributed to my research 
and writing, especially the general editor, W. Speed Hill, and the 


other textual and commentary editors of this Edition. I would like to 
single out, however, the help I received from Richard J. Schoeck. I 
offer a particular word of thanks to my father, Norman B. Gibbs, who 
first introduced me to the works of Richard Hooker and critically 
read each of my succeeding drafts, and to my wife, Joan Lawler Gibbs, 
and my children (John Leeland, Paul Joseph, and Karis Elizabeth), all 
of whom supported and commiserated with me through the many 
years of working on "the Hooker project." 

William P. Haugaard: For libraries and their staffs. London: the 
British Library, the Library of the Institute for Historical Research, the 
Library of the Middle Temple. Cambridge, England: the University 
Library and the Library of the Divinity Faculty. Cambridge, Massa- 
chusetts: Houghton Library of Harvard University. New York: Co- 
lumbia University Library and the St. Mark's Library of the General 
Theological Seminary. Washington, D. C, and its environs: the 
Folger Shakespeare Library, the Library of Congress, Catholic Univer- 
sity Library, the Woodstock Library at Georgetown University, and 
the Library of the Protestant Episcopal Theological Seminary in Vir- 
ginia. Chicago: the Newberry Library. Evanston: the United Library 
of Garrett-Evangelical and Seabury- Western Theological Seminaries 
and the Library of Northwestern University. Urbana: Illinois Universi- 
ty Library. For study grant: the Conant Fund of the Board for Theo- 
logical Education of the Episcopal Church. For research support, 
including sabbatical leave and administrative and collegial expectations 
and encouragement: Seabury-Western Theological Seminary. For 
transcription of texts with scholarly queries and suggestions: Katherine 
Sue Campbell. For aid in evaluation of parliamentary records: P. W. 
Hasler of the History of Parliament Trust and Michael A. R. Graves 
of the University of Auckland. For aid with medieval Hebrew: Jack B. 
Van Hooser. For welcome at the Cambridge Tudor seminar: Geoffrey 
R. Elton. For collegial hospitality: Rupert Hoare and staff and stu- 
dents at Westcott House. For the stimulation of seminar engagement 
with Hooker: my students at the Seminario Episcopal del Caribe and 
at Seabury-Western. For encouragement, advice, and critiques: my 
editorial colleagues in the Hooker project; for these and for unmerited 
patience as well: our general editor. For consistent support and per- 
ceptive assessments of vocational priorities: my wife Luisa. 

Arthur Stephen McGrade: Before all, Betty Jo McGrade; then Leland 


Carlson, Patrick Collinson, G. R. Elton, Alan Gewirth, R. H. Helm- 
holz, Howard Kaminsky, Jonathan Scott Lee, Shelley Lockwood, 
Michael McHugh, Anthony Milton, Christopher Morris, H. C. 
Porter, John H. M. Salmon, R. J. Schoeck, Reinhold Schumann, 
Quentin Skinner, Peter G. Stein, Thomas Suits, Walter Ullmann, 
Allen Ward. Staffs of the following libraries: the Folger Shakespeare 
Library and the Library of Congress in Washington, D. C, The 
British Library and Lambeth Palace Library in London, The Henry E. 
Huntington Library, San Marino, and the Bibliotheque Nationale, 
Paris; and the libraries at the University of Cambridge, the University 
of Chicago, the University of Connecticut, the Episcopal Divinity 
School, Harvard University (especially the staff of the Special Collec- 
tions department of the Law Library), the University of Oxford, and 
Yale University. For research grants and for a grant towards publica- 
tion of this volume, the University of Connecticut Research Founda- 

• • • 

If the general editor may be allowed a final word, I would espe- 
cially like to acknowledge the support over the years of my depart- 
ment at Lehman College, through its successive chairs, Francis Kearns, 
Bernard Einbond, Edgar Roberts, and Mardi Valgemae; the careful 
readings given earlier volumes by the Harvard Press's anonymous 
reader (G. Blakemore Evans); the timely assistance of Egil Grislis, the 
commentary editor for volume 5, in helping me see a major portion 
of this volume through the press; R. H. Helmholz's help with regu- 
larizing Hooker's canon and civil law references; the able and energet- 
ic work of Arthur Stephen McGrade in organizing the send-off con- 
ference; the contributing editors for their prompt responses to many 
last-minute queries; and the continued support of my wife, Linda, 
throughout the past decade, a major portion of which was spent on 
seeing the present volume — her principal rival — into print. 

W. Speed Hill 
General Editor 


A Chronology of Richard Hooker's Life, Georges Edelen xvii 

Abbreviations and Acronyms; Internal References xxvii 

Part One 

The Preface, William P. Haugaard 1 

Book I, Lee W. Gibbs 81 

Books II, III & IV, William P. Haugaard 125 

Book V,John E. Booty 183 
The Three Last Books and Hooker's Autograph Notes, 

Arthur Stephen McGrade 233 

Book VI, Lee W. Gibbs 249 

Book VII, Arthur Stephen McGrade 309 

Book VIII, Arthur Stephen McGrade 337 


Introduction to the Commentary 395 

The Preface 403 

Book I 477 

Book II 523 

Book III 553 

Book IV 601 

Part Two 


Book V 653 

Book VI 833 

Book VII 895 

Book VIII 985 

Textual Supplements 1053 

Index of Scriptural References 1101 

Bibliography 1157 


1 . Title page of Richard Bancroft's A Survay of the Pretended Holy 
Discipline (1593; STC 1352). By permission of the Folger Shake- 
speare Library. xxxii 

2. Title page of Theodoret of Cyrrhus's Dialogi tres in the edition 
used by Hooker (Rome, 1547). By permission of the Beinecke 
Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Yale University. 182 

3. Folio 107 r of the 1569 edition (STC 1352) of De legibus et con- 
suetudinibus Angliae, attributed to Henry de Bracton. By per- 
mission of the Folger Shakespeare Library. 232 

4. Title page of John Bridges's A Defence of the government established 
in the Church of Englande for ecclesiasticall matters (1587; STC 3734). 
By permission of the Folger Shakespeare Library. 248 

5. Signature A6 r of An Admonition to the Parliament of 1572 (STC 
10848). By permission of the Folger Shakespeare Library. 384 

6. Page 174 of John Whitgift's An Answere to a certen libel intituled, 
An Admonition (1573; STC 25429). By permission of the Folger 
Shakespeare Library. 385 

7. Pages 192—193 of Thomas Cartwright's A Replye to An Answere 
made of M. doctor Whitgifte (1573; STC 4712). By permission of 
the Folger Shakespeare Library. 386—387 

8. Pages 694—695 of Whitgift's The Defense of the Aunswere to the 
Admonition, against the Replie of T.C. (1574; STC 25430.2). By 
permission of the Folger Shakespeare Library. 388—391 

9. Page 151 of The Rest of the Second Replie of Thomas Cartwright: 
agaynst Master Whitgifts second Answer (1577; STC 4715). By per- 
mission of the Folger Shakespeare Library. 392 

10. Title page of Walter Travers's Ecclesiasticae Disciplinae, et Anglica- 
nae Ecclesiae ab ilia aberrationis plena e verbo Dei, & dilucida explicatio 
(1574). By permission of the Folger Shakespeare Library 402 


11. Page 192 the 1577 Frankfurt edition of Aristotle's Nicomachean 
Ethics. By permission of the Folger Shakespeare Library. 476 

12. A passage from Tertullian's De corona militis {Opera, Paris: 1566; 
1:745). By permission of the Rare Book and Manuscript Library, 
Columbia University. 522 

13. Pages 2-3 of John Udall's A Demonstration of the trueth of that disci- 
pline which Christe hath prescribed in his worde for the government of his 
Church, in all times and places, until the end of the world (1588; STC 
24499). By permission of the Folger Shakespeare Library. 552 

14. Page 189 of Thomas Stapleton's Principiorumfidei doctrinalium dem- 
onstrate methodica (1579; 1st edn., 1578). By permission of the 
Master and Fellows of St. John's College, Cambridge. 1052 

A Chronology of 
Richard Hooker's Life 

Georges Edelen 

The following table lists for Richard Hooker (RH) and his immediate 
family those dates verifiable from surviving records. In several cases 
key dates are given that, although not strictly ascertainable, seem prob- 
able from the evidence. The following abbreviations are used: 


Devon Muster 






Le Neve 

Libri Magni 

Life of Carew 
Nowell's Money 

Archives of Corpus Christi College, Oxford. 
The Devon Muster Roll for 1569, ed. A. J. How- 
ard and T. L. Stoate (Bristol, 1977). 
The Annals of Ireland . . . by Thady Dowling, ed. 
Richard Butler, Irish Archaeological Society 
(Dublin, 1849). 
Exeter Records Office. 

Thomas Fowler, The History of Corpus Christi Col- 
lege, Oxford Historical Soc, 25 (Oxford, 1893). 
Middle Temple Records, ed. Charles Henry Hop- 
wood, 4 vols. (London, 1904-1905). 
A Calendar of the Inner Temple Records, ed. F. A. 
Inderwick, 3 vols. (London, 1896-1901). 
Kent Archives Office, Maidstone. 
John Le Neve, Fasti Ecclesiae Anglicance, rev. ed., 
1541—1857, Vol. 6: Salisbury Diocese, comp. 
Joyce M. Horn, Institute of Historical Research 
(London, 1986). 

Annual summaries of income and disbursements 
at CCC; C/l/1/5 contains the accounts for 
1570-1580; C/l/1/6 for 1580-1584. 
John Hooker, The Life and Times of Sir Peter 
Carew, Kt., ed. John Maclean (London, 1857). 
The Spending of the Money of Robert Nowell, ed. 
Alexander B. Grosart (Manchester, 1877). 
The Seconde Parte of a Register, ed. Albert Peel, 2 
vols. (Cambridge, 1915). 


Register KK 



9 August 1537 

29 June 1552 
through 1557 

early April 1554 

Oct. 1562 to 
April 1565 

13 October 

26 May 1568 

Register of Convocation and Congregation 
1564-1582, Oxford University Archives. 
C. J. Sisson, The Judicious Marriage of M' Hooker 
and the Birth of "The Laws of Ecclesiastical Polity" 
(Cambridge, 1938). 

A Transcript of the Registers of the Company of Sta- 
tioners of London 1554-1640 AD, 5 vols., ed. Ed- 
ward Arber (London, 1875-1894). 
Unpublished notes to Walton's life of Hooker 
(quoted by permission of Professor Peter Ure's 
estate), citing Lincoln diocesan records. 
Izaak Walton's Life of Hooker, in RH, Works, ed. 
Keble (1888), 1:1-99. 
Wiltshire Records Office, Trowbridge. 

Robert Hooker dies, leaving 
his younger son Roger (father 
of RH) his interest in tinworks 
within the Stannary and 1/14 of 
his "goods moveable and not." 

Roger H's debts mounting, 
owes his brother John, who is 
covering for him, >£129 3s. 

RH born, in or near Exeter. 

Roger H in Spain as steward 
to the ambassador, Sir Thomas 

Roger H witnesses Chaloner's 
will in England, is left £20 and 
an annuity of £6 13s. Ad. from 
lands in Yorkshire. 

John H writes Sir Peter Carew 
recommending his brother 
Roger, "now dwelling with 
the old Lady Mountjoy," as his 
steward at Leighlin in Ireland. 

EXRO, Book 
55, fol. 93 r 

EXRO, Book 
57, p. 148 

CCC Admis- 
sion Records 

State Papers, 
Foreign, 1562— 

PRO, PCC, 47 

Life of Carew, 
pp. 194-205 


June 1569 

10 August 1569 

Fall 1569 (?) 

pre-July 1570 
Oct. 70-Oct. 71 

1571 (?) 

Oct. 71-Oct. 72 
30 Jan. 1572 
12 Feb. 1572 

Oct. 72-Oct. 73 

8 Mar 1573 

Oct. 1573 
24 Dec. 1573 

Roger H appears on muster 
roll at Totness. 

Roger H writes Irish Lord 
Chancellor from Leighlin 
pleading for military help 
against Irish rebels. 

RH matriculates at CCC. 

RH of CCC gets 205. from 
Nowell Trust. 

RH get 45. 6d. clothing allow- 
ance as chorister at CCC, ap- 
parently pro-rated beginning 
ca. Dec. 1570. 

RH visits Jewel (d. 23 Sept.) 
and mother in Exeter. 

RH gets 105. clothing allow- 
ance as chorister at CCC. 

RH gets IO5. from Nowell 
Trust as "poor scholar" of CCC 

RH gets 25. 6d. from Nowell 
Trust to "bring him to Oxford" 
(i.e., to return from a trip). 

RH gets IO5. clothing allowance 
as chorister. Libri Magni, fol. 34 r 

RH gets 35. Ad. from Nowell 

RH supplicates BA, admitted 
Jan. 1574, determines early 1574. 
RH admitted disciple at CCC. 

Devon Muster 

Life of Carew, 
pp. 221-222 

RH's grace for 
BA in Oct. 
1573 (see be- 
low) specifies 
he has studied 
for four years 

Nowell's Money, 
p. 206 

Libri Magni, 
C/l/1/5, fol. 


pp. 12-13 

Libri Magni, 
fol. 22 v 

Nowell's Money, 
p. 220 

Nowell's Money, 
p. 220 

Nowell's Money, 
p. 224 

Register KK, fol. 

154 v 

Fowler, p. 390 


Oct. 73-Oct. 74 RH gets stipend of 26s. 8d. as 
disciple, clothing allowance 
prorated of 65. 8d. 

Oct. 74-Oct. 75 RH gets stipend of 26s. 8d., 
clothing allowance of 135. A d. 
as disciple. 

28 April 1575 RH gets 5s. from Nowell Trust. 

Oct. 75-Oct. 76 

Oct. 76-Oct. 77 

4 Feb. 1577 
16 Sept. 77 

13 Oct. 1577 

Oct. 77-Oct. 78 
Oct. 78-Oct. 79 

14 July 1579 

RH gets stipend of 26s. 8d., 
clothing allowance of 135. Ad. 

RH gets stipend of 265. 8d., 
clothing allowance of 135. Ad.; 
CCC pays 8d. for a bushel of 
lime and hair for M r Hooker's 

RH supplicates MA, licensed 29 
March 1577, incorporated 1577. 

RH becomes Scholar (proba- 
tionary fellow) of CCC 

RH appointed to annual term 
as one of the "Masters of the 

RH gets stipend of 265. 8 d., 
clothing allowance of 135. Ad. 

RH gets stipend of 335. Ad. 
(prorated for full fellowship in 
Sept.), clothing allowance of 
135. Ad. 

RH appointed deputy Profes- 
sor of Hebrew, to cover for 
the Regius Professor, Thomas 

Libri Magni, 
fols. 45 r , 46 r 

Libri Magni, 
fols. 57 v , 58 v 

Nowell's Money, 
p. 226 

Libri Magni, 
fols. 69 v , 70 v 

Libri Magni, 
fols. 81 r , 82 r , 
85 v 

Register KK, 
fol. 229 v 

CCC, Fulman 
collections, X, 
fol. 175 v 

Register KK. 
fol. 247 r 

Libri Magni, 
fols. 93 r , 94 r 

Libri Magni, 
fols. 106 r , 106 v 

Register KK, 
fol. 288 r 



14 Aug. 1579 RH ordained deacon by John 

Aylmer at Fulham Palace. 

14 Sept. 79 RH gives bond as full fellow. 

Oct. 79-Oct. 80 


Oct. 1580 

Oct. 80-Oct. 81 

2 July 1581 

Oct. 81-Oct. 82 

21 Sept. 82 

Oct. 82-Oct. 83 

RH gets stipend of 535. Ad. as 
ordained fellow, clothing al- 
lowance of 16s. 8 d. as graduate 

Roger H, Dean of Leighlin, 
captured by Irish rebels under 
Feagh M c Hugh. 

John Rainolds, RH, and 3 
other fellows expelled from 
CCC; restored by 4 November 

RH gets stipend of 53s. 4d., 
clothing allowance of 16s. 8 d. and 
is repaid 8s. for "charges bestowed 
about the chapel chamber." 

RH witnesses fellowship bonds 
of Richard Cobbe and William 

RH gets stipend of 53s. Ad., 
clothing allowance of 20s. as 
one of 7 senior fellows; twice 
rides to Basingstoke with other 
fellows in Easter term to exam- 
ine M r Greneway's accounts. 

Mayor and Chamber of Exeter 
grant RH (son of Roger, de- 
ceased) annual pension of £A. 

RH gets stipend of 53s. Ad., 
clothing allowance of 20s. 

London Book 
of Ordinations, 
Guildhall MS 


Libri Magni, 
fols. 119\ 119 v 

p. 439 

CCC, Fulman 
collections, IX, 
174, 180 

Libri Magni, 
C/l/1/6, fols. 
6\ 7 V , 

-V -.V r 

CCC B/2/5 

Libri Magni, 
fols. 18 v , 19 v , 
22 r 

EXRO, Act 
Book #4, 
p. 399 

Libri Magni, 
fols. 31\ 31 v 


23 March 83 
Oct. 83-Oct. 84 

16 Oct. 1584 
Fall 1584 (?) 
4 Dec. 1584 

7 Feb. 1585 

17 March 85 
25 June 1585 

12 Oct. 1585 
6 April 1586 


RH witnesses fellowship bonds 
of George Sellar and Henry 

RH gets stipend of 535. Ad., 
clothing allowance of 20s., and 
additionally 135. Ad. as junior 

RH compounds for first fruits of 
Drayton Beauchamp in Bucks. 
(Lincoln diocese), presented by 
John Cheney (Cheyne). 

RH gives Paul's Cross sermon. 

Letter to Rainolds from London 
printer George Bishop indicating 
RH had delivered to him a Rain- 
olds MS earlier in the year. 

RH mentioned as new Master 
of the Temple. 

RH appointed as Master by 
Letters Patent from the Crown. 

RH to have 18 d. a year from 
every man in Commons of 
Middle Temple, as Master. 

RH resigns Drayton Beauchamp. 

Charles Taylor in a letter to M r 
Houldesworth, preacher at New- 
castle, summarizes RH's position 
in a sermon at "Inner Temple." 

RH of Temple "preacheth but 
now and then." 

CCC B/2/5 

Libri Magni, 
fols. 42 v , 43 r 


Walton's sug- 
gested date, 
1581 (p. 22), is 

CCC MS c. 318 


Walton, p. 27 



State Papers, 
Domestic, and 
p. 318 

Peel, 2:284 


13 Feb. 1588 RH marries Joan Churchman 

at St. Augustine, London 

25 Oct. 1588 Richard Walter of Middle 

Temple, a papist, to have con- 
ference with M r Hooker 
touching his reformation. 

19 Jan. 1589 Richard, son of RH, baptized 

at St. Augustine. 

2 Feb. 1589 Richard buried, Enfield. 

11 May 1589 Inner Temple orders a special 

admission for Thomas Adams, 
at the request of M r Hooker. 

10 May 1590 Alice, dau. of RH, baptized, 

St. Augustine. 

21 April 1591 Cecily, dau. of RH, baptized, 

St. Augustine. 

21 June 1591 RH subdean of Salisbury, pre- 

bendary of Netheravon, rector 
of Boscombe, presented by 
Queen; admitted and instituted 
by Whitgift, 17 July. 

17 July 1591 RH signs subscription book to 

39 Articles 

23 July 1591 RH installed in offices at Salis- 


Sept. 1591 RH's letter to Rainolds from 


30 Nov. 1591 RH participates in election of 
John Coldwell as Bishop of 

Parish register 
at London 

Parish register 

Parish register in 
Sisson, p. 126 


Parish register 

Parish register 

Le Neve, p. 60 

John Bernard, 
Claui Trabales, 
1661, p. 147 

Chapter Act 
Book 16, fols. 
ll v -12 r 

CCC, C318, 
fol. 137 r 

Chapter Act 
Book 16, fol. 
15 r 


1 Dec. 1591 RH holds subdean's court at 


1 Oct. 1592 Jane, dau. of RH, baptized at 


26 Jan. 1593 Contract signed between 

Edwin Sandys and John Win- 
det for printing of Laws. 

29 Jan. 1593 Lawes entered in Stationers' 

Register to John Windet. 

13 Mar. 1593 RH sends copy of Lawes, I-IV 

to Burghley. 

7 Jan. 1595 RH presented to living of 

Bishopsbourne by Queen. 

16 Feb. 1595 RH's successor as subdean in- 


21 June 1596 Edwin, son of RH, baptized, 

St. Augustine. 

22 July 1597 Edwin buried, Enfield, 
ca. Dec. 97 Lawes, V published. 

25 Oct. 1600 RH makes will. 

2 Nov. 1600, RH dies. 

2 p.m. 

4 Nov. 1600 RH buried, Bishopsbourne. 

Act Book 
1589-96, fol. 6 r 

Sisson, p. 125 

Interrogatory in 
Chancery, in 
Sisson, p. 128 

SR, 2:625 

This edn., 
1 :xviii— xix 

State Papers, 
1595-1597, p. 2 

Le Neve, p. 60 
Parish register 

Sisson, p. 126 

Deposition of 
Nicholas Eve- 
leigh, in Sisson, 
p. 139 


Noted by Wm. 
Laud, cited 
CCC, Fulman 
cols. X, fol. 27 v 

Parish register at 
Canterbury Ca- 
thedral Archives 


26 Nov. 1600 Inventory of RH's estate. KAO, PRC 


23 Mar. 1601 Joan H, widow, marries Edward Parish register 

Nethersole at Bishopsbourne. 

18 Feb. 1603 Joan Nethersole buried at St. Parish register at 

Peter's, Canterbury. Cathedral 


1610-1624 Suits in Chancery by RH's Sisson, pp. 127- 

daughters against Edwin Sandys 173 
and others. 

Abbreviations and Acronyms 

Short titles follow the corresponding full citation in the Bibliography. 

a . . . z 









B.C. P., 1559 





C.J. Can. 

C.J. Civ. 








Hooker's notes, this editon 
Acta Conciloum Oecumenicorum 

A Christian Letter (1599), ed. John E. Booty, Volume 
4, this edition (1982) 

Ancient Christian Writers, The Works of the Fathers in 
Translation (American Edition) 
The Ante-Nicene Fathers 

Richard Hooker, Answer to the Supplication (of Walter 
Travers), volume 5, this edition (1990) 
The Holy Bible, Authorized Version 
Blackfriars Edition, Thomas Aquinas, Summa theologiae 
The Bishops' Bible, 1568 
Book of Common Prayer 

The Book of Common Prayer, 1559, ed. John E. Booty 

Of the Laws of Ecclesiastical Polity: The Fifth Book, ed. 
Ronald Bayne (1902) 
Corpus Christianorum, Series Latina 
Thomas Rogers, The Catholic Doctrine of the Church of 
England, ed. J. J. S. Perowne (1841) 
A Learned Sertnon of the Certaintie and Perpetuitie of 
Faith in the Elect, Volume 5, this edition (1990) 
Book I: Of the Laws of Ecclesiastical Polity, ed. R. W. 
Church (1866) 
Corpus Juris Canonici 
Corpus Juris Ciuilis 
Church of England 
Church of Rome 
Council of Trent 
Corpus Reformatorum 
Corpus scriptorum ecclesiasticorum latinorum 
John Whitgift, The Defense of the Aunswere to the Ad- 
monition, against the Replie ofT.C. (1574) 
Simonds D'Ewes, The Journals of all the Parliaments 
during the Reign of Queen Elizabeth (1682) 


DNB L. Stephen [and S. Lee], eds., Dictionary of National 

Biography (1885-1901) 
E.N. T. Elizabethan Nonconformist Texts, ed. Leland H. Carlson 

E.P.M. Patrick Collinson, The Elizabethan Puritan Movement 

Explicatio Walter Travers, Ecclesiasticae Disciplinae, et Anglicanae 

Ecclesiae ab ilia aberrationis, plena e verbo Dei, & dilucida 

explicatio (1574) 
FOTC Fathers of the Church, a new translation 

GB The Geneva Bible, 1560 

GCS Die Griechischen christlichen Schriftsteller der ersten drei 

H Richard Hooker 

I . . . VIII Books I . . . VIII, Of the Lawes of Ecclesiasticall Politie 

Inst. John Calvin, Institutes of Christian Religion 

ISR Index of Scriptural References, Volumes 5-6, this edition 

J. B.C. The Jerome Biblical Commentary (1968) 

Jude 1, 2 Two Sermons Upon S. Judes Epistle, Volume 5, this 

edition (1990) 
Just. A Learned Discourse of Justification, Volume 5, this 

edition (1990) 
Keble John Keble, ed., The Works of. . . Mr. Richard Hooker, 

7th edn., rev. R. W. Church and F. Paget (Oxford, 

KJV The Holy Bible, King James Version 

LACT Library of Anglo- Catholic Theology 

Lawes Richard Hooker, Of the Lawes of Ecclesiasticall Politie 

LCC Library of Christian Classics 

Loeb Loeb Classical Library 

LOF Library of the Fathers 

Loyer Olivier Loyer, L'Anglicanisme de Richard Hooker (1 979) 

Mansi Sacrorum conciliorum collectio, ed. J. D. Mansi (1759— 

1798; rpr. 1961) 
Milward Peter Milward, Religious Controversies of the Elizabethan 

Age (1977) 
MGH Monumenta Germaniae Historica 

n Commentary note, this edition 

Neale Elizabeth I and her Parliaments (1958) 

NEB The New English Bible 

NPNF.l A Select Library of the Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers of 

the Christian Church, First series 


NPNF.2 A Select Library of the Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers of 

the Christian Church, Second series 
NT New Testament 

OCD The Oxford Classical Dictionary 

ODCC The Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church 

OED J. A. H. Murray, ed., A New English Dictionary on 

Historical Principles (1888-1928) 
OT Old Testament 

PG Patrologia cursus completus, Series Graeca, ed. J. P. 

PL Patrologia cursus completus, Series Latina, ed. J. P. 

P.M. Puritan Manifestoes, ed. W. H. Frere and C. E. 

Douglas (1907; rpr. 1954, 1972). 
Pride A Learned Sermon of the Nature of Pride, Volume 5, this 

edition (1990) 
PS The Parker Society 

RC Roman Catholic 

Remedie A Remedie Against Sorrow and Feare, Volume 5, this 

edition (1990) 
Replye (= 1:) Thomas Cartwright, A Replye to An answere made of 

M. Doctor Whitgifte. Agaynste the Admonition. By T.C. 

The Rest of the Thomas Cartwright, The Rest of the Second Replie 
Second Replie agaynst Master Whitgifts Second Answer (1577) 

RSV The Holy Bible, Revised Standard Edition 

SC Sources Chretiennes 

Schroeder Disciplinary Decrees of the General Councils (1937) 

The Second Thomas Cartwright, The Second Replie of Thomas Cart- 

Replie (= 2:) wright: agaynst maister Whitgiftes Second Answer (1575) 
STC A Short-Title Catalogue . . . 1475-1640, 2nd edn. 

Sisson C. J. Sisson, The Judicious Marriage of Mr Hooker and 

the Birth of "The Laws of Ecclesiastical Polity" (1940) 
S.R. Statutes of the Realm, 12 vols. (1810-1828) 

S.R.H. Studies in Richard Hooker (1972) 

S.T. Thomas Aquinas, Summae theologiae 

Supplication A Supplication made to the Privy Counsel, Volume 5, 

this edition (1990) 



Horton Davies, Worship of the English Puritans (1948) 
The Whole Volume of Statutes, 2 vols. (1587) 

Internal References 

volume number, this edition 
page number (s), this edition 
line number(s), this edition 
Hooker's note, at foot of text page 
line number of Hooker's note (rare) 
commentary note, this edn. 

1:20.15-27/3.11 IV.6.3-4 

section numbers (Keble's) 

chapter number (Hooker's) 

Book, Of the Lawes of Ecclesiasticall 


The Folger Library Edition 

The Works of Richard Hooker 

/fiLonf- y& 





Contay ning the bcginningcs, fuccefie,parts, proceedings, 
authority, and doctrine of it : with lonie of the ma- 
nifold, and materiall repugnances, varie- 
ties and vncertaincties, in that 

Faithfully gathered, byway of hifioricall narration, out of the 

hookes andmitingeijoffrmifallfauouren ofthatplatforme 

Anno z$pS' 

They wouldbe Do&ors of the Law : and yet vnderftand not what they 

Ipeakc : neither whereof they affirme. i.Tim 1.7. 
gententias veftras prodidiffc, fuperaflc eft. Hier. ad Ccefiph. adu.PcUg,c..f. 
To acquaint j tut with tUir difcifline, it tt ouerthrew it. 

WriAK?* • ^°ii d ^ fry yto® woifc is 9 h 

1 . Title page of Richard Bancroft's A Survay of the Pretended Holy Discipline (1 593; 
STC 1352), an account of disciplinarian Puritanism that appeared in the same year as 
the Preface and first four books of Hooker's Lawes (reduced). 


The Preface 

William P. Haugaard 

Addressing himself "To them that seeke (as they tearme it) the reforma- 
tion of Lawes, and orders Ecclesiasticall, in the Church of England," and 
setting out "the cause and occasion" of his treatise Of the Lawes of Ecclesi- 
asticall Politie, Richard Hooker (1554?— 1600) opened its Preface with 
a solemn declaration of purpose: 

Though for no other cause, yet for this; that posteritie may know we 
have not loosely through silence permitted things to passe away as in a 
dreame, there shall be for mens information extant thus much concerning 
the present state of the Church of God established amongst us, and their 
carefull endevour which woulde have upheld the same. (Pref. 1.1; 

In the twentieth century, many of those "things" for which Richard 
Hooker took "so much paine" have, in fact, passed away: the shared 
allegiance of European peoples to the truths of Christian revelation; 
the common assumption that a nation was best bound together by 
common religious values and structures embedded in "Lawes, and 
orders Ecclesiasticall"; the finely articulated and rigidly hierarchical 
inequalities that were widely judged to be God-given conditions of 
earthly human life; the effectual royal power in the English monarchy. 
Yet all these "things" now passed away were then acknowledged and 
held by those who sought "reformation" as well as by those who shared 
Hooker's commitment to "the present state of the Church of God estab- 

Clarendon recalled it on the opening page of his History of the Rebellion; see 
Edward Hyde, Earl of Clarendon, The History of the Rebellion and Civil Wars in 
England, ed. W. D. Macray (Oxford, 1888; rpr. 1958), 1:1. A plate of the Bodleian 
MS shows that Clarendon originally wrote: "If for no other reason, yet lest [?] 
posterity may be deceaved . . . ." He revised it to read: "That posterity may not be 
deceaved . . . ." 



established" in late sixteenth-century England. In the Lawes Hooker's 
intent was to demonstrate that, despite his agreement with his oppo- 
nents on fundamentals of Christian faith and their joint acceptance of 
existing societal structures, their program to reform the Church of 
England betrayed important components of the revelation of truth to 
which they adhered and insidiously subverted the communal bonds to 
which they gave homage. 

Other "things" which claimed Hooker's "carefull endeuour" have not 
passed away: a Christian theology that seeks to discover God-given 
truths for life and church in the fabric of creation and in inherited 
human wisdom as well as in the pages of Holy Scriptures; a convic- 
tion that times, persons, and circumstances may and do alter the ways 
in which timeless principles should be applied to particular situations; 
a Protestant Christianity that incorporates traditionally Catholic epis- 
copal ministerial orders and liturgical rites; an ecumenical understand- 
ing that the parts of the Christian West separated in earlier years of 
the sixteenth century, whatever their individual differences, nonethe- 
less remain members of the one Church of Jesus Christ. 

On these issues, Hooker judged his opponents, "for whose sakes so 
much paine is taken," to be misguided in seeking "(as they tearme it) the 
reformation" of the Church of England. 

i. Elizabeth's Reign: 
Crucible for an Emerging Anglicanism 

The issues that Richard Hooker confronted in the Lawes were 
rooted in the distinctive form of Christian faith and practice that had 
been developing within the structures of the Elizabethan settlement. 
Catholic opponents of the Elizabethan settlement had struggled 
throughout the reign to undo it; Protestant opponents had attempted 
to reshape it. The character of the Church of England was being 
formed, in part, in response to those pressures from without and 
within. Three centuries later that form, as it continued to develop, 
would be known as "Anglicanism." Its fundamental characteristics 
were present in the Elizabethan church, but no theologian before 
Richard Hooker had given them systematic or coherent theological 

The Preface 

exposition. In Hooker's sixteenth-century eyes, the religion of the 
Church of England did not constitute an "ism" or a "denomination" 
but simply Christianity as lived within the national church, a "distinct 
. . . visible society" of "the Catholike Church" (III. 1.14; 1:205.25-28). 
When he took up his pen to defend its religious faith and practice, it 
was in defense of an institution that had nurtured and sustained him 
in his own life and ministry. 

The Church of England in European Perspective 

The vision of "Christendom" — the medieval community of the 
west united in religious faith and practice — did not die with the 
Reformation. Popes and reformers alike affirmed it, marvelling at the 
obstinacy of their ecclesiastical opponents whose erroneous under- 
standings thwarted the restoration of unity. Within each of the politi- 
cal divisions of Europe, moreover, the vision continued to be legally 
sanctioned. The scattered groups which attempted to sunder the bonds 
between church and state, collectively known as Anabaptists, were as 
strongly repudiated by other Protestants as by Catholics. The larger 
vision of European religious unity remained on the horizon, fed from 
time to time by futile efforts to promote ecumenical reconciliation. 
Occasional observers, however, suggested that, among the Reforma- 
tion patterns, that of the English church was distinct from those of the 

Relevant studies of the sixteenth-century Reformation in England include: A. 
G. Dickens, The English Reformation (New York: Schocken, 1964); Philip Hughes, The 
Reformation in England, 3 vols. (New York: Macmillan, 1951-1954); Horton Davies, 
Worship and Theology in England from Cranmer to Hooker, 1534-1603 (Princeton: 
Princeton University Press, 1970); Felicity Heal and Rosemary O'Day, eds., Continuity 
and Change: Personnel and Administration of the Church in England, 1500-1642 (Leicest- 
er: Leicester University Press, 1976) and Church and Society in England: Henry VIII to 
James I (London: Archon, 1977); Rosemary O'Day, The Debate on the English Reforma- 
tion (London: Methuen, 1986); Patrick McGrath, Papists and Puritans under Elizabeth 
I (London: Blandford, 1967); J. E. Neale, Elizabeth I and her Parliaments, 2 vols. 
(1953—1957), hereafter, Neale; Wallace T. MacCaftrey, The Shaping of the Elizabethan 
Regime and Queen Elizabeth and the Making of Policy (Princeton: Princeton University 


From a European perspective, the most important fact of the 
Elizabethan settlement was the repudiation of papal authority. When 
Elizabeth opted for revived ecclesiastical independence, she made the 
most momentous single political — as well as religious — decision of her 
reign. In the eyes of most of Hooker's contemporaries, the split 
between Catholic and Protestant, as those terms were generally em- 
ployed, loomed larger than any among established Protestant churches. 
Yet this simplistic dichotomy did not satisfy all sixteenth-century 
English witnesses. In the first years of Elizabeth's reign, Nicholas 
Throckmorton (1515—1571), English ambassador to France, stimulated 
by the abortive Roman Catholic-Huguenot discussions at Poissy, 
urged William Cecil (1520-1598, created Baron Burghley, 1571), the 
queen's principal secretary, to procure an essay which might demon- 
strate the virtues of the English form of reformation. Conversations 
with French Protestants and Catholics had convinced him that "the 
formulary of the Church of England" offered an example of reforma- 
tion "better allowed of the Papists . . . than that of Geneva, or any 
form used in Germany." When he received a copy of the Latin 
Apology of the Church of England ofjohn Jewel (1522—1571), he wished 
that the author might have "as well answered the Calvinists and 
others" as he had responded to the Roman Catholics. 

In the closing years of the century, Edwin Sandys (1561—1629), in 
company with George Cranmer (1563—1600), made a lengthy journey 
through the continent, concluding his trip by writing an essay directed 
to Archbishop John Whitgift sketching out a possible reconciliation 
between Catholics and Protestants. He had found "a kind of men . . . 
in all Countries, not many in number, but sundry of them of singular 
learning and pietie, whose godly longings to see Christendome 

Press, 1968-81); and William P. Haugaard, Elizabeth and the English Reformation 
(Cambridge: The University Press, 1968). 

Nicholas Throckmorton to William Cecil, 28 December 1561 and 24 January 
1562; Calendar of State Papers, Foreign Series, of the Reign of Elizabeth . . . preserved in the 
State Paper Department of her Majesty's Public Record Office (1863-74), 4:462 and 504. 
Nicholas was uncle of Job Throckmorton, the militant Puritan M.P. who was 
evidently Martin Marprelate; see pp. 23-25 and 29, below. 

The Preface 

reunited ... in the possession of one ground and foundation of faith, 
doe expect the same." "In their more sober moodes," many Roman 
Catholics will acknowledge England 

to have beene the only nation that walke the right way of justi- 
fieable reformation, in comparison of other, who have runne 
headlong rather to a tumultuous innovation (so they conceive it) 
... no Luther, no Calvine, the square of their faith, what pub- 
lique discussing and long deliberation did perswade them to be 
faultie, that taken away. (sig. V3 V ) 

A measure of self-satisfied chauvinism marks the opinions of 
Throckmorton and Sandys, but their judgments reflected a recognition 
among some contemporaries that the English church represented a 
kind of Protestant tertium quid among established European churches, 
whose character suggested the possibility of rapprochement with 

A relation of the state of religion: and with what hopes and pollicies it hath been framed, 
and is maintained in the severall states of the Westeme partes of the world (1605; STC 
21717), sig. S4 V . The first 1605 edition (STC 21716), published anonymously, was 
publicly burned 2 Nov. 1605; The Letters of John Chamberlain, ed. N. E. McClure 
(Philadelphia, 1939), 1:214, cited in STC, 2:303. The 1629 edition published at The 
Hague claimed to be written from the "Authours Originall Copie" in contrast to the 
"spurious stolne Copie" of 1605; it was entitled Europa Speculum. Or, a view or survey of 
the state of religion in the westeme parts of the world (STC 21718; sig. 7tl r and 712*) . The 
opening preface, instead of being addressed to the reader as in 1605, was personally 
addressed to Archbishop Whitgift (sig. al 1 ), and the essay ended with the author's 
request to take "leave of your Grace" and dated "From Paris. IX°. Aprill. 1599." (p. 
248). Four further editions were published in London in 1632 (2), 1637, and 1638; 
these followed the 1629 edition with a few minor changes in the section "To the 
Reader" and the claim on the title page that the book came from a manuscript 
acknowledged by the author "for a true Copie." Sandys died in 1629. On the dates 
of Cranmer and Sandys's journey, see n. 87, below. 

H. R. Trevor-Roper pointed out the significance of Sandys's work for an 
understanding of Hooker's perspective in New York Review of Books, 24 November 
1977, rpr. as "Richard Hooker and the Church of England," Renaissance Essays 
(London: Martin Seeker & Warberg; Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1985), pp. 
103—120. And see W. Speed Hill, "The Doctrinal Background of Richard Hooker's 
Laws of Ecclesiastical Polity" Ph.D. diss., Harvard University, 1964, pp. 102-121. 


Roman Catholic as well as with fellow Protestant churches. 

As the comments of Throckmorton and Sandys suggest, however, 
the terms of the Elizabethan settlement did not easily fall into the neat 
division that divided continental adherents of the magisterial Reforma- 
tion into Lutheran and Reformed. In early years of the reign, Jewel 
considered the English church to stand between Rome on one side 
and Anabaptists on the other, sharing that central ground with both 
Lutheran and Reformed, insisting that they be "good friends and 
brethren, . . . [varying] not betwixt themselves upon the principles and 
foundations of our religion." 

One of the more subtle and frequently unrecognized differences 
between the English church and its continental cousins lay in the 
relative importance placed on prescribed liturgies compared with that 
placed on formal confessions of faith. Both Lutheran and Reformed 
defined their ecclesiastical identity by their adhesion to such confes- 
sional statements. As the century progressed, the definitions tended to 
grow in both length and exclusiveness; they tolerated, however, 
within each confessional family, wide differences in forms of worship. 
In the Elizabethan settlement, the English church first established its 
liturgy and then took twelve years to produce and authorize its 
Articles of Religion, which turned out to be both shorter and more 
inclusive than the predecessor on which they were based. Further- 
more, all members of the English church, lay and clerical, were subject 
to the liturgical provisions of the Prayer Book, but enforcement of 
doctrine touched only clergy and lay church officials. 

Although early English reformers had been influenced by Luther 
and condemned as Lutheran heretics, by mid-century most English 
personal ties with continental Protestants centered on the Reformed 
communities of Switzerland and the upper Rhine. On the issue most 
sharply debated between the two continental groups, that of the 
Eucharistic presence, most reform-minded English theologians agreed 
with continental critics of the developed Lutheran doctrine in judging 
what they understood to be "consubstantiation" to be as wrong- 

An Apology of the Church of England, ed. John E. Booty (Ithaca: Cornell Univer- 
sity Press, 1963), p. 48. 

The Preface 

headed as the "transubstantiation" of Roman Catholics. In spite of the 
strengthened assertion of Christ's presence in Elizabethan Prayer Book 
and Articles, the English standards failed the strict tests that the Saxon 
Lutherans set forth in the 1577 Formula of Concord. As the doctrine 
of election came to the fore toward the end of the century as another 
dividing line between Lutheran and continental Reformed, English 
opinions were more diverse. Many, including most advanced Protes- 
tants, joined the latter in emphasizing John Calvin's (1509-1564) 
doctrine of predestination so as to make it a central theme of theolog- 
ical discussion. 

In other respects Prayer Book liturgies were more traditionally 
Catholic than those of continental Protestants, sharing more, both in 
structure and content, with Lutheran than with Reformed. From a 
later perspective, if the focus is on church life in general rather than 
on formal confessions of faith, the resemblance between Lutheran and 
English churches is striking. Yet the personal associations between 
English and Reformed, the strong Reformed convictions of an active 
body of English lay and clerical theologians and leaders, the formula- 
tion of the Eucharistic presence in the Articles of Religion, the use of 
various Reformed catechetical materials in schools and universities, 
and the priority given to doctrinal symbolics led continental Europe- 
ans, and many English as well, to perceive the Church of England as 
a part of the international Reformed community of churches. Popular 
report rather than ignorance or perversity led Pius V (1504—1572) to 
condemn Elizabeth and those "who cleave to her" in heresy as "Cal- 

"Subtle Sacramentarians . . . talk our language very plausibly, . . . but under this 
plausible terminology they really retain the former crass opinion that in the Holy 
Supper nothing but bread and wine are present and received with the mouth"; 
Formula of Concord, Epitome, Article 7; The Book of Concord, Theodore G. Tappert, 
ed. (Philadephia: Muhlenberg Press, 1959), p. 482. On the Sacramentarians or 
"sacramentaries," see 2:336. 16.n, below. 

8 Regnans in Excebis, 25 February 1570, in Quellen zur Geschichte des Papsttums und 
des Romischen Katholizismus, 4. Auflage, ed. Carl Mirbt (Tubingen: J. C. B. Mohr, 
1924), pp. 348-349; for an English trans., see Thomas Fuller, The Church History of 
Britain, ed. J. S. Brewer (Oxford: The University Press, 1845), 4:360-364. 


The Elizabethan Religious Settlement 

The essential elements of the religious settlement negotiated at the 
beginning of the reign of Elizabeth Tudor (b. 1533; reigned 1558- 
1603), were the 1559 Prayer Book, the liturgy within which English 
men and women regularly worshipped, with its prescribed lections 
from the vernacular Bible; the Supremacy Oath, tendered on appro- 
priate solemnities to the clergy, which assured independence from 
papal authority and teachings; and the Queen's Injunctions, which 
regulated details of worship, teaching, and administration of church 
affairs. Four years later the clerical convocation produced the Thirty- 
nine Articles of Religion, which in 1571 received royal assent and 
were clothed with enforcement procedures by convocation and 
parliament, setting doctrinal boundaries for those who shouldered 
official teaching and disciplinary responsibilities in the church. 
Except for the few modifications in the vestiarian requirements for 
clerical garb promulgated (with the queen's tacit approval) by bishops 
of the Ecclesiastical Commission in 1566, these constituted the Eliza- 
bethan settlement of religion. 

The 1559 Prayer Book was edited by John E. Booty in 1976: The Book of 
Common Prayer, 1559: The Elizabethan Prayer Book (Charlottesville: The University of 
Virginia Press for the Folger Shakespeare Library). The Uniformity Act, which 
authorized the Prayer Book, and the Supremacy Act, which imposed the oath are in 
Statutes of the Realm, vol. 4 (London, 1819), 1 Eliz. I, cap. 1 and 2; these and Eliza- 
beth's Injunctions are in Henry Gee and William John Hardy, eds., Documents 
Illustrative of English Church History (1910; rpr. New York: Kraus, 1966), Nos. 78-80. 
For the Injunctions (STC 10095—10110), which were ordered to be read quarterly in 
English churches and were reprinted throughout Elizabeth's reign, see Walter Howard 
Frere and William McClure Kennedy, eds., Visitation Articles and Injunctions of the 
Period of the Reformation, Alcuin Club Collections, 14-16 (London, 1910), 3:8-29. 

The Articles are usually printed in editions of the English Book of Common 
Prayer, the Latin and English forms of 1563 and 1571 are included in Charles Hard- 
wick, A History of the Articles of Religion, 3rd ed. (London, 1895), Appen. 3.2. On 
their passage through the Convocation of Canterbury and the assent of the bishops of 
the Province of York, see Haugaard, Elizabeth and the English Reformation, pp. 62-64 
and 247-257. 

These modifications, dubbed "Parker's Advertisements," which treated many 
matters besides the street dress and vestments of the clergy, otherwise enforced rather 
than modified the conditions of the settlement. See Frere, Visitation Articles, 3:171- 
180; Gee and Hardy, Documents, No. 81; and 1:1 2.5-1 l.n, below. 


The Preface 

The settlement did not create a new institution, but it did intro- 
duce teachings emphasized by continental Reformers, and it modified 
other important aspects of the life of a church that had existed in 
Britain for more than a thousand years. The traditional Catholic form 
of ordained ministry with bishops, priests, and deacons was retained, 
and the old ecclesiastical sub-divisions, now constituting some thirteen 
thousand parishes, twenty-six dioceses, and two provinces, with their 
officials, courts, patronage, and properties continued to define the legal 
corporealization of the national church. After four major changes in 
the twenty-five years previous to Elizabeth's accession, these stable 
standards provided the prescribed structures within which religion was 
to be practiced in the Church of England during the thirty-four years 
of Richard Hooker's schooling and ministry. 

The elements of the settlement, variously revised, reflected the 
reigns of Henry and Edward: royal supremacy with its corollary, 
independence from Rome; English Bible; Prayer Book; royal Injunc- 
tions; a traditional episcopal ministry and polity; and, subsequently, 
Articles of Religion. Both independence from Rome and a vernacular 
Bible were policies to be accepted or rejected in toto, but the other 
key elements of liturgy, ministry, and doctrine were subject to diverse 
formulations. Whatever may have been the dynamics between queen 
and parliament in the tense initial months of her reign, the settlement 
which actually emerged contained elements that, in varying degrees, 
both pleased and dismayed the more conservative and the more 
militant reformers who favored the break with Rome and return of 
the English Bible. 

The 1559 Prayer Book was essentially that of 1552, with a few 
minor but significant changes in the direction of the earlier 1549 
liturgy. Elizabeth's Injunctions were also closer to the terms of the 

See Neale, 1:33—84; "The Elizabethan Acts of Supremacy and Uniformity," 
English Historical Review, 65 (1950): 304-332; and Norman L. Jones, Faith by Statute: 
Parliament and the Settlement of Religion, 1559 (London: Royal Historical Society, 
1982). On Elizabeth's Parliaments more generally, see Neale's two volumes and 
Geofirey R. Elton, The Parliament of England, 1559—1581 (Cambridge: The University 
Press, 1986); Michael A. R. Graves, The Tudor Parliaments (London: Longman, 1985); 
and P. W. Hasler, ed., The House of Commons, 1558—1603, 3 vols. (London: History 
of Parliament Trust, HMSO, 1981). 


more conservative first stage of Edwardian reforms. In organization the 
polity of the church was unchanged, except for the more prominent 
role assigned to ecclesiastical commissions through whom the queen 
might exercise her supremacy. In the Thirty-nine Articles the bishops 
produced a doctrinal norm for the English church that was open to 
interpretations less rigorously Protestant than the earlier Forty-two 
Articles had allowed. To the dismay of militant reformers, instead of 
completing the reforms of the last years of Edward, aborted by the 
accession of Mary Tudor in 1553, the settlement stepped back slightly 
from their aggressively reformed stance. 

The Settlement's Adversaries 

From the first years of the reign, the settlement was subjected to 
pressures both from English Roman Catholics who sought to retrace 
the steps of Mary Tudor and from English advanced Protestants who 
sought to "complete" the reformation of the Church of England. 

Foreign Roman Catholic powers and local regicides hoped to 
replace both settlement and queen at one blow. A minority of English 
Roman Catholics might emigrate and/or plot against their queen, but 
most remained quietly in England wishing only to practice their 
religion according to what they judged to be the true faith. They 
faced increasingly difficult choices after Pius V excommunicated and 
deposed Elizabeth in 1570. Some welcomed fugitive priests for 
secret masses in their homes while they paid increasingly steep fines as 
recusants, while others attended their parish churches, making personal 
accommodations with their consciences. The campaign to maintain 

The term "advanced Protestant" may eventually win its way as a replacement 
for "Puritan," but the latter is too firmly established in generations of scholarly 
commentary to be lightly displaced. For discussions, see Basil Hall, "Puritanism: The 
Problem of Definition," Studies in Church History, ed. G.J. Cuming, (1965), 2:283- 
296; Collinson, E.P.M., pp. 24-28; Dent, Protestant Reformers in Elizabethan Oxford 
(1973), pp. 2-3; New, Anglican and Puritan (1964), pp. 1—4; Lake, Moderate Puritans 
(1982), pp. 10-11 and 279-286, and Anglicans and Puritans? (1988), p. 7; and Borden 
W. Painter, "Anglican Terminology in Recent Tudor and Stuart Historiography," 
Anglican and Episcopal History, 56.3 (1987): 237-249. 

See above, n. 8. 


The Preface 

and to extend papal loyalties, launched from the emigre communities 
on the continent and increasingly under Jesuit leadership, coincided 
with signs of Philip's warlike intentions that included an abortive 
landing of Spanish troops in Ireland in 1579 and culminated in the 
campaign of the Armada ten years later. As loyal as most Catholics and 
even a number of the missionary priests might be to their queen, in 
the perceptions of most of their fellow countrymen, their dual loyal- 
ties rendered them suspect. 

Many English Protestants assumed that their religious interests 
coincided with the national welfare. Walter Travers (1548—1635), 
Richard Hooker's opponent at the Temple church, attempted to 
convict Hooker in the eyes of the privy council by the accusation that 
he taught that Roman Catholic teaching might sometimes lead its 
adherents to salvation. In his "Supplication" Travers judged that, in 
the face of the Catholic threat and the consequent need for Protestant 
unity, he only had to point out to the councillors the Catholic impli- 
cations of Hooker's words, such as had "not ben heard in publick 
places, with in this land, synce Quene Maries daies" (5:208.8—10). 
When the defeat of the Armada exploded papal hopes that a foreign 
invasion might subdue Protestant England, the majority of people 
could hardly be faulted for concluding that a judicious divine provi- 
dence underlay the English seamanship and the fortuitous winds that 
had won the victory. 

It was this polarization of European religious politics that underlay 
the religious life of the Elizabethan church in which Hooker wrote 
and his contemporary audience read the Lawes. Inevitably, the genuine 
religious differences with Rome bore the additional weight of identity 
with a political rival and enemy, whereas differences with those 
continental "distinct societies" of the "Catholike Church," who had 
also repudiated Roman authority, carried only the discredit that 
English chauvinism might engender. "The favorers of the Church of 
Rome" Hooker wrote, "know how far we . . . differ and dissent from 
them" (IV.12.5; 1:323.11-12). Defending the traditional character of 

On the growth of the Roman Catholic threat, see "The Historical Setting, 
1580-1585," 5:619-629, this edn. 



Prayer Book liturgy, he preferred to follow "the perfections of [Ro- 
man Catholics] whome we like not, then in defectes resemble [Protes- 
tants] whome we love" (V.28.1; 2: 121. 26-28). 16 The distinctive 
character of the English church and of Hooker's understanding of it 
developed in the context of Roman Catholic attempts to return it to 
the papal fold. 

Many reformers at the beginning of the reign understood the initial 
decisions about religion not as a firm "settlement" but as a way station 
towards more adequate reform. Although interpreters have widely 
ranging opinions about Queen Elizabeth's motivations in religious 
matters, few would deny that it was her tenacity that lay behind the 
firmness with which the 1559 standards were maintained. In the 
words of Francis Bacon (1561-1626): "Within the compass of one 
year she did so establish and settle all matters belonging to the church, 
as she departed not one hair's breadth from them to the end of her 
life." 18 

When the terms of the settlement were laid down, most clergy and 
laity who accepted the break with Rome were prepared to obey. Yet 
on hearing of parliament's action establishing the Prayer Book, Edwin 
Sandys the elder (1516?-1588), future archbishop of York and father 
of Richard Hooker's student and patron, wrote to Matthew Parker 
(1504-1575), soon to be archbishop of Canterbury, concerning the 
rubric for traditional vestments, that "our gloss upon this text is, that 
we shall not be forced to use them." By 1566, the vestiarian con- 
troversy had made the royal will in this matter abundantly clear. 

On Hooker's anti-Romanism, see Richard Bauckham, "Hooker, Travers and 
the Church of Rome in the 1580s," Journal of Ecclesiastical History, 29 A (1978): 37-50. 

The more common historical judgment has labelled Elizabeth a politique who 
employed religion as a tool in the interest of her political objectives. For another 
view, see Haugaard, Elizabeth and the English Reformation, and "Elizabeth Tudor's Book 
of Devotions: A Neglected Clue to the Queen's Life and Character," Sixteenth Century 
Journal, 12.2 (1981): 79-105. 

The Works of Francis Bacon, Lord Chancellor of England, ed. Basil Montague 
(London, 1825—34), 3:477. For the original Latin, see The Works of Francis Bacon, ed. 
James Spedding, Robert Leslie Ellis, and Douglas Denon Heath (London, 1879-90), 

19 30 April 1559; Correspondence of Matthew Parker, PS (1853), p. 65. 


The Preface 

Lawrence Humphrey (1527?— 1590), a dominant figure in academic 
and ecclesiastical politics during Hooker's years at Oxford, just missed 
being deprived as head of Magdalen College for his refusal to wear the 
surplice; his counterpart at Christ Church, Thomas Sampson (1517?— 
1589), was ejected from his deanship. The two Marian exiles ex- 
pressed the painful response of many of their former companions 
wl\en they indignantly protested to Henry Bullinger (1504—1575) of 
Zurich against his advice to conform: "We must indeed submit to the 
time, but only^br a time; so that we may always be making progress 
and never retreating. . . . Why should we receive Christ rather 
maimed, than entire, and pure, and perfect?" 

Another Marian exile, William Cole (d. 1600), president of Hook- 
er's own Corpus Christi College for thirty years, included his assess- 
ment of religion in England in a letter to one of Bullinger's fellow 
ministers in Zurich in 1579, the year Hooker was ordained deacon: 
"If you wish to know what is the state of religion throughout all 
England, it is precisely the same as it has been from the beginning of 
the reign of our most gracious queen Elizabeth. There is no change 

Cole's understated commentary reflected a wide range of Puritan 
frustrations. Militant attempts to achieve reforms in convocation and 
parliament had failed. Archbishop Parker had successfully established 
the hated vestiarian requirements as the official norm. The forthright 
demand of the 1572 Admonitioners for a presbyterian ministry mod- 
eled on that of Geneva had angered the queen and alienated some 
Puritan sympathizers. Elizabeth had dashed the hopes with which most 
reformers had greeted the nomination in 1 576 of Edmund Grindal 
(1519?-1583) to Canterbury by suspending him the following year. 

When Cole wrote in 1579, he could not have known that Grindal's 
death in 1583 would occasion a further setback. Instead of a cleric 
sympathetic to advanced Protestant concerns, Elizabeth named Whit- 
gift, whose reputation for conformity rested administratively on his 
opposition at Cambridge to Thomas Cartwright (1535-1604) and 

20 July 1566, The Zurich Letters, PS (Cambridge, 1842-45), 1:161, 162. 

21 28 February 1579, to [Rudolph Gualter, Sr.], The Zurich Letters, 2:308. 



literarily upon his Answere to the Admonition to Parliament and his 
Defense of the Aunswere in response to Cartwright's Replye. Cart- 
wright and Travers were the foremost theologians promoting the 
presbyterian cause, the "head" and the "neck" respectively, as Fuller 
described them, and Whitgift, having launched a renewed cam- 
paign for clerical conformity, silenced Travers's well publicized ex- 
changes with Hooker in the Temple church. 

The reformers' frustration with their inability to bend the settle- 
ment to their will from within must not obscure their significant 
successes in the universities and in many parishes where they won the 
allegiance of a significant portion of religiously dedicated clerics, 
theological students, and lay persons in the church. Historians, how- 
ever, occasionally write as if only Roman Catholics and Puritans took 
religion seriously in Elizabethan England. We need not be seduced by 
the polemics of sixteenth-century opponents of the establishment into 
judging that lukewarm devotion or sheer vocational opportunism 
inevitably characterized its supporters. In societies in which religion is 
established, dissenting groups typically claim a higher proportion of 
devoted adherents among their limited constituency than can those 
conforming to the establishment. The anti-establishment campaign left 
a large body of documentary evidence of commitment and fervor, the 
uncritical reading of which has sometimes led historians to take the 
indictment of the establishment and its adherents at face value. 

In preparation for a radical program to be introduced into the 
House of Commons in 1587, Puritans drafted a "Supplication to the 
Parliament" in which they noted the "long time of patient endurance 
of all our griefs." They sought "some convenient remedie," clarifying 
for the legislators 

how by meanes of the imperfections and intollerable abuses of 
the present lawes of the Church, not consonant in many things 
to the lawes of Allmightie God, the people of God within this 
land and hir majesties most faithfull and loving subjects are 

22 See n. 152, pp. 71-72, below. 

23 Church History (1845), 4:468. 


The Preface 

famished in most places, for the want of the sound and syncere 
preaching of the Word of God. 

Puritans firmly believed that their programs would bring the English 
people closer to that pattern of a godly society that many had envis- 
aged at the time of the seemingly miraculous accession of Elizabeth to 
the throne. In opposition to the call to arms of advanced Protestants, 
defenders of the establishment, as they lived within the terms of the 
religious settlement, forged a Christian tradition that that was to prove 
distinct from those of Roman Catholic, Lutheran, and Reformed 
persuasions. Among those defenders, Richard Hooker was to be the 
most persuasive and, through succeeding years, the most influential. 

The Character of the Militant Challenge 

The problems of the definition of "Puritan" are legion, but the 
term may justly include a wide range of clergy and laity adhering 
firmly to Protestant principles of scriptural authority and of justifica- 
tion by faith who also pressed for changes in the settlement that 
would, in effect, bring the standards of the Church of England sub- 
stantially closer to those of continental Reformed bodies. This 
definition encompasses a wide spectrum: laity and clerics who con- 
formed but actively supported certain reforms as highly desirable; 
those who scrupled from ceremonial or vestiarian requirements but 
supported an episcopal ministry; clergy and laity who with the Ad- 
monitioners sought a Genevan-like discipline; and even separatists, 
repudiated by the rest, whose frustrations with the establishment led 
them into schism. These groupings blended into one another, and 
individual Puritans moved from time to time from one sector of the 
spectrum to another. 

Apart from their internal dissensions, a wide spectrum of Puritans 
shared a sense with one another that they were "Gods owne," recog- 

24 No. 204 in Albert Peel, ed., The Seconde Parte of a Register (1915), 2:71 and 73; 
see Neale, 2:146, and Collinson, E.P.M., p. 304. 
See above, n. 13. 



nizing a "separation betweene such and the rest of the world, whereby [they] 
are named The brethren, The godlie" (Pref. 3.11; 1:18.13-16). Preaching, 
the ministry of the word, they would agree, was the most essential 
work of a Christian church. The presence of preaching ministers 
within the national church validated the decision of all but a tiny 
minority to remain while pressing for change. Earnestness, commit- 
ment, and sincerity characterized their religion, and, taken as a whole, 
they no more merited the frequently associated epithet of "hypocrite" 
than other groups dedicated to the serious practice of their religious 
principles. They courted the opprobium, however, by indiscriminately 
designating establishment opponents as "worldlings, timeservers, pleasers 
of men not of God" (1:18.16-17). 

Throughout Elizabeth's reign Puritans played prominent roles at 
both Cambridge and Oxford, which, with their clerical administrative 
and professorial staffs, constituted the institutions of higher theological 
learning in the Church of England. Of the two, Cambridge, as in 
Henrician and Edwardian years, contributed a larger proportion of 
reforming leaders from among its teachers and graduates. The privy 
councillor Walter Mildmay (1520?-1589) founded Emmanuel in 1584 
with the "one aim . . . that from this seminary the Church of England 
might have men ... to instruct the people and undertake the duty of 
pastors." 26 Its first Master, Laurence Chaderton (1536?-1640), served 
until 1622. Although circumspect in his opposition to the settlement, 
Chaderton contributed his theological learning to the presbyterian 
movement and nurtured generations of clerical alumni. Among the 
older houses, reformist influence was most heavily concentrated in St. 
John's and Christ's colleges, but every one of the Cambridge colleges 
could claim distinguished Puritan alumni. 

At Oxford, Sampson's leadership of Christ Church in the sixties and 
Humphrey's at Magdalen and Cole's at Corpus Christi for most of the 

26 From chap. 21 of the Statutes of Emmanuel, prepared by Mildmay; see H. C. 
Porter, ed., Puritanism in Tudor England (London: Macmillan, 1970), p. 186. Porter's 
Reformation and Reaction in Tudor Cambridge (1958; rpr. Hamden, Conn.: Archon Press, 
1972) focuses on the religious issues in the university from the early sixteenth through 
the first decades of the seventeenth centuries. Lake's Moderate Puritans begins with 
Elizabeth; see esp. pp. 40—46 and 169—200. 


The Preface 

reign developed many advocates of advanced protestantism. Before the 
century was out, Brasenose, Queen's, and Exeter came to stand out as 
seminaries for "godly" parsons. The prescribed books for catechetical 
use in the 1 579 revised heresy statutes at Oxford included, along with 
English works, authors drawn exclusively from continental Reformed 
churches. The most prominent university theologians included 
three advanced Protestants who took moderate stands on episcopal 
polity: William Whitaker (1548-1595) and William Perkins (1558- 
1602) at Cambridge and John Rainolds (1549-1607) at Oxford. 
Rainolds was a slightly older companion of Hooker at Corpus Christi 
College, with whom he shared a brief period of expulsion from the 
college (see below, p. 53). A complex web linked sixteenth-century 
Oxford and Cambridge with the life and government of church and 
state throughout England, and the political and theological dimensions 
of academic controversies touched on issues raised by the terms of the 
religious settlement. 

Puritans were not only successful in winning devoted adherents in 
parish and university; the movement, even divided as it was, proved 
immensely potent politically. Their influential supporters included a 
small but significant number of the nobility, tending to the conserva- 
tive end of the spectrum, among them the earls of Leicester, Robert 
Dudley (1532?-1588), of Warwick, Ambrose Dudley (1528P-1590), of 
Bedford, Francis Russell (1527?-1585), and of Huntingdon, Henry 
Hastings (1535—1595). These were joined by reform-minded council- 
lors drawn from the gentry. Mildmay and Francis Walsingham (1530?— 
1590), the latter with an able cadre of administrators and diplomats, 
stood out among these both for their administrative abilities and their 

S. L. Greenslade, "The Faculty of Theology," chap. 4.4, and Jennifer Loach, 
"Reformation Controversies," chap. 5 in James McConica, ed., The History of the 
University of Oxford, vol. 3, The Collegiate University (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1986), 
pp. 327 and 388-389. These essays and those by G. D. Duncan and Penry Williams 
(chaps. 4.5 and 6), together with Dent's Protestant Reformers, provide a comprehensive 
survey of the religious scene at Oxford. The books include the catechisms of Geneva 
(Calvin), Zurich (Bullinger), and Heidelberg, Andreas Hyperius's commentary on the 
latter, and three English works: Nowell's Catechism, based largely on Calvin, Jewel's 
Apology, and the Thirty-nine Articles with explanations. 



devotion to the reforming cause. Even though the commitment of 
Cecil to the Puritan cause was more ambiguous, throughout the reign 
he often stood with the reformers in urging the queen to relax her 
commitment to the original terms of the settlement. When Whitgift 
campaigned for clerical conformity, local officials and regionally 
influential gentry from areas of Puritan strength petitioned in support 
of clergy threatened with deprivation from their pastoral posts, and the 
entire privy council, with the exception of Christopher Hatton (1540— 
1591), called on Whitgift to abate the campaign. Because he knew 
that Elizabeth stood behind his policies, the archbishop persevered 
against the Puritan political phalanx. 

When the militant reformers failed to gain their objectives in the 
1563 Convocations, they turned to parliament. Puritan measures, 
ranging from mild modifications of the enforcement of the settlement 
to full-scale programs for a presbyterian ministry and a Genevan 
liturgy, were repeatedly proposed in the House of Commons where 
they received formidable support from many gentry. Privy councillors 
often sympathized with this legislation, linked as they were with the 
parliamentary "men of business" who managed legislative procedures 
and included a number, such as James Morice (1539—1597) and 
Thomas Norton (1532—1584), with deep commitments to the reform- 
ers' cause. Some of these initiatives might well have made their 
way successfully through the legislative process, had Elizabeth not 
repeatedly forbidden their consideration for touching matters that 
trespassed on her royal prerogative. With some limits, she recognized 
the right of free speech in Commons, as well as the right of the 

Collinson has carefully documented the extent of gentry support for the 
beleaguered ministers (E.P.M., Parts 5—8). 

On Morice, see pp. 28-29, below; on Norton, see Michael A. R. Graves, 
"Thomas Norton the Parliament Man: An Elizabethan M.P., 1559—1581," The 
Historical Journal, 23.1 (1980): 17-35. Norton translated reformed literature, including 
Calvin's Institutes (STC 4415) and Alexander Nowell's Latin Catechism (STC 18701); 
see Haugaard, "John Calvin and the Catechism of Alexander Nowell," Archiv fur 
Reformationsgeschichte, 61.1 (1970): 50-66. Neale's two volumes document the story of 
Puritan initiatives, but his picture of an organized single-minded Puritan opposition in 
Commons requires serious modification; see Elton, Parliament, 1559-1581, Graves, 
Parliaments, and Jones, Faith by Statute. 


The Preface 

legislators to modify and to approve or to disapprove of legislation 
proposed in response to government initiatives. But when more radi- 
cal members attempted to initiate legislation on governmental and 
social issues with religious implications, the proposals challenged the 
queen's understanding of the constitutional balance of king-in-parlia- 
ment, and she refused to countenance them. 

The reforming cause had an important alliance with common 
lawyers seeking to reduce the jurisdiction of the ecclesiastical and royal 
prerogative courts. The terms of the settlement were enforced in the 
traditional church courts, in the royal ecclesiastical commissions, and, 
on occasion, by privy councillors in the Star Chamber. Common 
lawyers coveted this extensive legal territory, and they opposed the 
civil law procedures that prevailed in courts of canon law. The oath 
ex officio mero required witnesses to testify against themselves: as Morice 
complained in the 1593 Commons, "wee are constrayned to be both 
Accusers and Condemners of our selfs," and those who refuse to 
answer the court interrogatories are "comytted to hard and miserable 
imprisonment." The oath became the common lawyers' symbol of 
the unjust procedures of the canonical and civil courts. Such law- 
yers were well represented in parliament. 

Although the reformers were not able to replace the standards of 
the settlement with norms based on their own religious principles, 
they implemented bits and pieces, here and there, as opportunity 
permitted. Nonconformity in clerical dress and vestments and the 
omission of prescribed Prayer Book ceremonies were common. When 
authorities pressed for obedience to established law in such matters, 
the reformers debated among themselves the degrees of compliance 
that their conscientious understandings of scriptural prescriptions might 
allow. Liturgies other than those of the Book of Common Prayer 
were seldom used, but reform-minded ministers might eliminate 
portions they judged objectionable or superfluous to ensure that a 
larger proportion of the service might be dedicated to the preaching, 

"A Remembrance of certaine matters concerninge the Clergye and theire 
Jurisdiction: Anno Domini 1593," pp. 106-107; Cambridge University Library, MS. 
mm. 1.51, pp. 105-133; see also Cal. MSS, Hatfield House, 4:291. 
31 On English law, see 1:41. 1-1 4.y.n, below. 



which even the conforming Archbishop Grindal termed the "ordinary 
mean and instrument of the salvation of mankind." 

Family chaplaincies and town or parish lectureships, either endowed 
or supported by subscription, provided posts in which advanced 
Protestants might dedicate their energies to the promotion of godliness 
and reform as they understood them. In sympathetic parishes church- 
wardens and sidesmen (their assistants) could be regarded as the ruling 
elders and deacons of reformed discipline. By declaring days of fasting, 
Puritan clergy deepened the piety of reform-minded laity; where town 
officials were sympathetic, such days could be sanctioned by the local 
government. The exercises or prophesyings provided opportunity for 
clergy to come together for scriptural study, sometimes with public 
sermons and discussions that included laity; to the extent that the 
exercises were dominated by reformers, they served as means of 
forwarding Puritan goals. 

Zealots went further. Many establishment supporters, as well as 
Puritans, were dismayed when Elizabeth suspended and overruled 
Archbishop Grindal for refusing to obey her order to suppress the 
exercises, viewed by many as an effective means of what might be 
termed today continuing clerical education. The queen acted on advice 
that saw the exercises as "embryonic presbyteries" or "classes" by which 
the reformers sought to replace the traditional episcopal government of 
the church with the disciplinary structures of Geneva. By the begin- 
ning of the last decade of the century, authorities had gained firm 
evidence of a network of secret regional "conferences" related to one 
another through the London group and its organizing genius John Field 
(1545-1588), one of the authors of the Admonition. On occasion local 

32 From Edmund Grindal's December 1576 letter to Elizabeth refusing to obey 
her order to suppress the "exercises" and to limit preaching licenses; see The Remains 
of Edmund Grindal, PS (1843), pp. 376-390. 

33 See Collinson, E.P.M., Parts 2.2, 2.5, and 7. 

Cartwright's biographer so labels them, noting that they are "of the modern 
type," i.e., without coercive powers; see A. F. S. Pearson, Thomas Cartwright and 
Elizabethan Presbyterianism (Cambridge, 1925), p. 157. 

Richard Bancroft published the results of the investigations, as seen through the 
eyes of ecclesiastical authority, in two books published in the same year as the first 
part of Hooker's Lawes: A Survay of the Pretended Holy Discipline (1593; STC 1352), 


The Preface 

conferences sought ways to legitimize their members' clerical posts 
that the law had forced them to accept via "unscriptural" ordinations 
by bishops and deployment by patronage. But without any coercive 
means at hand, the attempts of a classis to exercise discipline over its 
members depended entirely upon an individual's willingness to accept 
group decisions. 

In the early eighties representatives from the local classes attended 
regional or national conferences intended to determine and coordinate 
presbyterian strategy throughout the country. Imaginative Puritans 
and, later, scandalized church authorities might regard these as "em- 
bryo national assemblies," but the fragile structures of the network 
hardly merited such a dignified title. At the times of the three 
Parliaments of the decade (1584/5, 1586/7 and 1589), national groups 
gathered in London to further their strategies for reform legislation. A 
"Book of Discipline" was prepared in London, with directions for the 
worship, discipline, and government of a national church patterned 
after that of the French and Scottish Reformed. Distributed to 
classes about the country for discussion and possible subscription, the 
book whetted reformers' appetites for its implementation. Before the 
decade was out, the more eager were considering ways they might put 
the program into immediate practice. Extrapolating their experience 

and Daungerous Positions and proceedings, published and practised within this Hand of 
Brytaine, under the pretense of reformation, and for the presbiteriall discipline (STC 1344), the 
latter printed by John Windet (as was the Lawes). The documents seized by authorities 
are in the Public Record Office, and they are corroborated by others; see R. G. 
Usher, The Presbyterian Movement in the Reign of Queen Elizabeth, as Illustrated by the 
Minute Book of the Dedham Classis, 1582-1589, Camden Society, 3.8 (1905), and those 
in Dr. Williams's Library, London, calendared by Peel in The Seconde Parte of a 
Register. Collinson's E.P.M. draws on both. See below, pp. 24 and 30-32, and 
1:50.28-3 l.n. 

36 Neale, 2:60. 

"The Book of Discipline," extant in various MSS, was printed for the 1645 
Westminster Assembly as A directory of church-government. Anciently contended for, and as 
fane as the times would suffer, practised by the first non-conformists in the dales of Queen 
Elizabeth. Found in the study of . . . Thomas Cartwright, after his decease, Wing T 2066. 
Travers initially drafted it in 1585 with input from Cartwright and Field (Collinson, 
E.P.M., pp. 293-296). 



with local unauthorized modifications in the religious settlement, some 
began to envision, in essence, a takeover from below, a "presbytery in 
episcopacy" in which what they judged to be scriptural order might 


prevail in the English church. 

if. The Nation and the Church in 1593 

Setting the Scene for the 1590s 

Four events in the late 1580s set the scene for the political and 
religious issues of the final decade of the century: the Armada, the 
Marprelate tracts, an increasingly aggressive defense of episcopacy, and 
the resurgence of separatism. 

First, the reinvigorated Roman Catholicism of the Counter Refor- 
mation, with its renewed moral authority and political commitment, 
was able in the last four decades of the century to stop and, in some 
cases, to reverse the gains of the continental Reformation. The two 
most powerful nations, Spain and France, were both — with different 
and varying degrees of intensity — committed to the Roman Catholic 
cause. Although less of a military power than these two, England 
headed the list of Protestant powers considered individually, and the 
return of England to anti-papal ranks in 1558 significantly enhanced 
the fortunes of her continental brethren. 

The Catholic powers recognized the importance of the recapture of 
England. After Elizabeth had unequivocally declared for independence, 
common wisdom proposed that her replacement by a Roman Catholic 
sovereign would be the most effective means to return the nation to 
papal obedience. Mary Stuart (1542-1587) had the best claim to succeed 
a childless Elizabeth. Until her execution in 1587, she was perceived, 
as Philip II (1517-1598) of Spain put it, as "the gate by which reli- 
gion must enter the realm of England." European courts did not, 

Fuller described the plan as "the embryo of the presbyterian discipline, lying as 
yet, as it were, in the womb of episcopacy," a design "to set up a discipline in a 
discipline, presbytery in episcopacy"; Church History (1845), 5:5 and 7. 

Philip to Cardinal Pacecco, October 1565, Calendar of State Papers, relating to 
English Affairs, preserved principally at Rome (1916), 1:182. 


The Preface 

by and large, initiate the repeated fanatical attempts to assassinate 
Elizabeth, but they did encourage home-grown rebellions and hinted 
at support by foreign invasion. By the mid-eighties Philip successfully 
gained French acquiescence in his "great enterprise" to reclaim Eng- 
land. National political and religious goals coalesced — as they had a 
hundred years earlier when the Spanish kingdoms had expelled the last 
Moslem rulers from the Iberian peninsula. On the day the Armada set 
sail, every soldier and seaman gathered in Lisbon harbor in 1588, from 
admiral to cabin boy, was shriven, communicated with the Blessed 
Sacrament, and given a papal plenary indulgence. 

Even though English men and women joyfully celebrated the defeat 
of the Spanish fleet, most did not appreciate its long-range signifi- 
cance. In his opening oration to the 1589 Parliament in the queen's 
name, Lord Keeper Christopher Hatton reviewed Roman Catholic 
aggression against England, which had culminated when "the unchris- 
tian fury, both of the Pope (that wolfish bloodsucker) and of the 
Spaniard (that insatiable tyrant)" burst upon England "like thunder. 
God be thanked, he feared more than hurt us." Hatton reflected the 
wisdom of the day in judging the victory to have been that of a 
battle, not of the war. He urged Parliament to provide resources for 
the continued defense of the land: "We have lopped off some of [the 
enemy's] boughs; but they will sooner grow again than we think 
of." Later, the defeat of the Armada would be recognized as a 
decisive turning point, but as the last decade of the century opened, 
the Roman Catholic powers remained an overwhelming threat in the 
minds of English Protestants. 

Second, between October 1588 and September 1589, seven inflam- 
matory writings of one "Martin Marprelate" and his associates ap- 
peared in support of those reformers who would replace episcopacy 
with a presbyterian ministry and discipline. The pamphlets changed 
the style, but not the substance, of the debate. Invective was typical 
enough of theological polemic of the age, but the pseudonymous 
writings brought a new weapon to the battle: memorably vigorous 
satire. The literate public at large, not just clergy or dedicated Puritans, 

Neale, 2:197 and 200, from Lambeth Palace MS. 178, fols. 75-81. 



read the pamphlets for literary entertainment. Bishops and the laws of 
the land were held up to public ridicule — not a reassuring prospect in 
the eyes of a queen and hierarchy for whom the censorship of writ- 
ings inimical to ordered society was a self-evident responsibility of 
good government. 

The fruitless search for the authors and for the less elusive printing 
presses led in the fall of 1589 to the discovery of correspondence and 
other papers relating to the secret disciplinarian network that the 
recently deceased Field had established among scattered centers of 
Puritan strength throughout England. The evidence enabled the 
members of the Ecclesiastical Commission to begin legal interrogation 
and arrest of the participants. In the midst of the excitement gener- 
ated by the tracts Hatton told the members of the 1589 Parliament 
that Elizabeth had never "looked for any better" than she had re- 
ceived from England's enemies, but that she grieved that 

amongst her friends . . . men of a very intemperate humour do 
greatly deprave the present estate and reformation of religion . . . 
whereby her loving subjects are greatly disquieted, her enemies 
are encouraged, religion is slandered, piety is hindered, schisms 
are maintained, and the peace of the Church is altogether rent in 
sunder and violated. 

The later ecclesiastical ban in 1599 of all satires — not just those that pilloried 
the bishops — may have had its origins in "Martin's" earlier abuse. See The Renaissance 
in England, ed. Hyder E. Rollins and Herschel Baker (Boston: D. C. Heath, 1954), p. 

For details of the publications, subsequent examinations, and the thorny 
question of authorship, see E. Arber, An Introductory Sketch to the Martin Marprelate 
Controversy (London, 1879); William Pierce, An Historical Introduction to the Marprelate 
Tracts (London, 1903), and John Penry, His Life, Times and Writings (London, 1923); D. 
J. McGinn, John Penry and the Marprelate Controversy (New Brunswick: Rutgers 
University Press, 1966); and, most convincingly, Leland H. Carlson, Martin Marprelate, 
Gentleman. Master Job Throckmorton Laid Open in His Colors (San Marino: Huntington 
Library, 1981). The Tracts themselves (STC 17453-59) were rpr. in facsimile (Leeds: 
Scolar Press, 1967). Collinson traces the story through the "Discovery, Prosecution, 
and Dissolution" of the disciplinarian movement in E.P.M., Part 8. For Bancroft's 
role, see n. 35, pp. 20—21, above. 


The Preface 

Hatton warned that Elizabeth doth 

most straitly charge and command you . . . [that] you do not in 
this assembly so much as once meddle with any . . . matters or 
causes of religion, except it be to bridle all those, whether Papists 
or Puritans, which are . . . discontented [with the estate and 
government of this Church of England]. 

Never before on such a solemn occasion had Elizabeth's officials 
equated Puritan with Papist. The words must have disconcerted more 
than a few of the assembled legislators committed to reform. Elizabeth 
herself had come close in her closing speech to the 1585 Parliament: 
"[I mind not] to animate Romanists (which, what adversaries they be 
to mine estate is sufficiently known), nor tolerate new-fangled- 
ness." The consequences of the Marprelate investigations could 
only heighten establishment determination and rhetoric against the 
church's would-be reformers. 

Third, for almost thirty years, defenders of episcopacy in the Eliza- 
bethan church had been content to rest their case primarily upon the 
right of an independent church to determine the order of its own 
ministry. According to the theological standards they put forth, the 
form of ministry was an indifferent matter, and ancient tradition and 
English law had established an episcopal order in the national 
church. However, in 1587 the arguments escalated in a massive 
volume by John Bridges (d. 1618), dean of Salisbury, and in 1589 a 
published sermon by Richard Bancroft (1544—1610), an increasingly 
prominent and active member of the Ecclesiastical Commission. 

43 My emphasis; Neale, 2:198-199. 

44 Neale, 2:100 

See below, Introduction to Book VII, pp. 310-323; also, Collinson, E.P.M., 
pp. 101-105. 

Bridges, A defence of the government established in the church of Englande for ecclesias- 
ticall matters, STC 3734; Bancroft, A Sermon Preached at Paules Crosse the 9. of Februarie, 
1588, STC 1346; see also W. D. J. Cargill Thompson, "A Reconsideration of 
Richard Bancroft's Paul's Cross Sermon of 9 February 1588/9" injoumal of Ecclesiasti- 
cal History, 20 (1969): 253—266, and "Sir Francis Knollys's Campaign Against the Jure 
Divino Theory of Episcopacy," in Studies in the Reformation (1980), pp. 94—130; also, 
Collinson, E.P.M., p. 397. 



Comparing the antiquity of episcopal with presbyterian orders, both 
writers claimed little more than what the Preface to the Prayer Book 
Ordinal declared: "that from the Apostles tyme, there hath bene these 
orders of Ministers in Christes church, Bisshopes, Priestes, and Dea- 
cons." 47 Nonetheless, their tone was offensive to both English and 
Scottish presbyterians. The writings demonstrated that apologists for 
the establishment were gaining new self-confidence in the support of 
their episcopal form of ministry. 

Fourth, a handful of advanced Protestants, increasingly frustrated by 
the lack of progress in modifying the religious settlement, urged 
separatism as the only means to a properly reformed church. The 
solution was not new to Elizabethan protestantism. While bishop of 
London in 1567, Grindal had suppressed a congregation of separatists 
in London that had formed within the parish that had also nurtured 
Field. At the beginning of the eighties, an English cleric, Robert 
Browne (1550?-1633), called for "reformation without taryingfor . . . the 
Magistrate." He temporarily emigrated with a congregation that 
settled in Holland and became the forerunners of the American 
Pilgrims. By the middle of the decade, Browne himself had abandoned 
his separatism and had returned to the national church, but new sepa- 
ratist voices soon emerged. Browne's writings caught the imaginations 
of a cleric, John Greenwood (d. 1593), and a lay lawyer, Henry 
Barrow (1550P-1593), whose own writings landed them in prison by 
1587. Their literary output from prison for the next six years contin- 
ued to fuel the separatist cause among frustrated fringe groups of 
English reformers. Separatists were few in number, but, as the 
nineties opened, their cause provoked condemnation equally by estab- 

47 The First and Second Prayer Books of Edward VI (1910; rpr. 1949), p. 292. 

A Treatise of reformation without tarying for anie, and of the wickednesse of those 
Preachers, which will not reforme themselves and their charge, because they will tarie till the 
Magistrate commaunde and compell them (1582; STC 3910); see Peter Milward, Religious 
Controversies of the Elizabethan Age (1977), pp. 35-36 (hereafter, Milward), for the 
tangled bibliography of this tract, listed in the STC as A booke which sheweth the life and 
manners of all true christians. 

49 For separatism before Elizabeth, see nn at 1.36:23-26 and 36.30-39.2, and 
Collinson, E.P.M., pp. 87-91. 


The Preface 

lishment supporters and by the majority of Puritans who were com- 
mitted to the principle of a national church they wished to reform. 

The Parliament of IS 93 

When Parliament assembled on 19 February 1593, the Roman 
Catholic threat, the Marprelate tracts and the secret disciplinarian 
network, the defense of episcopacy, and separatism all emerged in the 
course of the legislative proceedings. The House of Commons elected 
the scholarly lawyer Edward Coke (1552—1634), later the renowned 
jurist, to be their Speaker. When he was presented to the queen to be 
confirmed in office, the formal exchange between the Speaker and 
Lord Keeper Puckering (1544—1616), who responded for Elizabeth, 
reflected the political tensions of the government of king-in-parlia- 
ment: to Coke's petition for "liberty of Speech," she granted such 
liberty "in respect of the I [Aye] and No, but not that every one 
should speak what he listed." 

Hatton's 1589 warnings about the recovery of Spain's purpose and 
strength seemed to have been borne out. Puckering pointed to the 
renewed threat that Philip posed: on water, he was rebuilding his navy 
in the proven English design of warships; on land, in support of the 
Catholic League in France against Henry IV (1553—1610), he had 
brought his troops into nearby Brittany; and he was intriguing for 
Scottish support to encircle England. The Keeper of the Great Seal 
appealed for new taxation to respond to these new initiatives of the 
Spanish king, who "so far from seeing the hand of God that strake 
him . . . [was] more furiously enraged than ever." 

Accordingly, the government introduced two anti-Catholic bills, 
one in each house, one against lay recusants and the other against the 
missionary priests whom Hatton had earlier labelled "vile wretches, 
those bloody priests and false traitors, here in our bosoms . . . [who] 

Simonds D'Ewes, The Journals of all the Parliaments during the reign of Queen 
Elizabeth, both of the House of Lords and House of Commons (1682), p. 469; hereafter, 

Neale, 2:246-247; Sir William Upton later in the session similarly suggested 
that the malice of Pope and Spanish king could be quenched by nothing but "rivers 
of blood"; Calendar of State Papers, Domestic Series, Elizabeth, 1591-94 (1867), pp. 



will not cease to practice both at home and abroad." Of the two 
bills, only the latter, begun in Lords, made its way through the legisla- 
tive process, with both houses lightening the penal measures originally 
proposed. The other anti-Catholic bill was lost in the lower house 
in the midst of vigorous arguments over the possibility that the penal- 
ties might be applied to Protestant recusants; as one member asked: 
"Whether those that came not to Church by reason of the mislike 
they had of Church Government, shall be in like Case as a Recusant 
Papist" (D'Ewes, p. 476). Although the final legislation fell short of 
initial government intentions, previous anti-Catholic measures re- 
mained in force and were in fact strengthened by the new act. 

Balancing the threat to Catholic aggression from without with that 
of subversion of the religious settlement from within, the government 
also confronted the disciplinarian threat that the Marprelate investiga- 
tion had revealed. Sympathizers with advanced Protestants threw 
down the gauntlet in the second week of Parliament. On 27 February 
James Morice introduced two bills to relieve "the hard Courses of the 
Bishops . . . and other Ecclesiastical Judges . . . used towards sundry 
learned and godly Ministers and Preachers of this Realm." A member 
of parliament since 1584, Morice, Queen's Attorney of the Court of 
Wards and Liveries, had become one of the small circle of "parliament 
men" on whose legal and legislative skills the business of the House 
depended. He was sufficiently prominent in his profession three years 
later to be elected treasurer, the principal executive office of the 
Middle Temple, a few months before his death. In that office, he 
succeeded Miles Sandys (d. 1601), the uncle of Hooker's former 
student Edwin Sandys, who, with his uncle, also sat in the 1593 
Parliament. The two laws that Morice proposed in 1593 would have 
outlawed various legal instruments of the church courts and commis- 
sions, including two targets of long-standing Puritan complaints, the 
ex officio oath, and the articles of subscription devised by Archbishop 

52 Neale, 2:199; for the account of the bills, see 2:280-297. 

53 Elton has re-examined evidence in the 1581 Parliament that casts doubt on 
Neale's contention (2:284) that, in contrast to earlier parliaments, the 1593 Commons 
had a new "more tolerant" spirit (Parliament, pp. 186-187). Rather, earlier parliaments 
had also tended to lighten penal measures proposed. 


The Preface 

Whitgift in 1583 to enforce clerical conformity. In a subsequent letter 
to Burghley, Morice suggested that unless such practices were curbed, 
"as heretofore wee praied, From the tyranny of the B[ishop] of 
Rome, good Lord deliver us [as in the Henrician Litany and Edwardi- 
an Prayer Books], wee bee compelled to pray, From the tyranny of 
the Clergy of England, good Lord deliver us." Any advanced Prot- 
estant in 1593 would have been especially aware of the recent investi- 
gation and imprisonment of those disciplinarians whose network had 
been uncovered in the Marprelate investigations. 

The Ecclesiastical Commissioners had immediately begun to exam- 
ine and prosecute those whose roles in the Marprelate writings had 
been revealed. Early in 1590 gentry convicted of hiding the actual 
press, both men and women, were passed on to the Star Chamber for 
sentences of fines and imprisonment. Job Throckmorton (1565-1601), 
the sometime lay parliamentarian and probable principal author of 
Martin, was examined and charged, but the case was suspended in 
1591 and never resumed. The cleric John Udall (1560?-1592) was 
examined in January 1590. The courts to whom Udall was committed 
for judgment deemed a tract he authored and printed on the Marpre- 
late press to have been seditious. Sentenced to death, he received 
a pardon in June 1592, but soon died, presumably from the rigors of 
his imprisonment. John Penry (1559—1593), another cleric even more 
deeply involved in the Marprelate productions, fled to Scotland. His 
writings had suggested a strong leaning towards separatism, and, on 
returning to London in 1592, his association with a separatist congre- 
gation led to his arrest the following March while Parliament was in 
session. Convicted of treason for seditious unpublished writings — a 

Morice includes the text of the letter of 1 March in his manuscript treatise on 
his misadventures in the 1593 Parliament, "A Remembrance," pp. 122-123; Morice's 
speech, pp. 105-112; full text of one bill and title of the second, pp. 112-117. 
D'Ewes, p. 474. For Morice's election on 25 June 1596, see Charles Henry Hop- 
wood, Middle Temple Records (London: Butterworth, 1904), 1:367; and see Neale, 

See references at n. 42, p. 24, above. 

A demonstration of the trueth of that discipline which Christe hath prescribed in his 
worde for the government of his Church, in all times and places, untill the end of the world 
(1588; STC 24499); see 1:27.1 l-13.n and 247.8-248.6.£.n. 



conviction surely partly motivated by his role in the Marprelate 
adventure — Penry was to be executed two months later. 

The Commissioners had given intense and extended attention to 
the newly uncovered network of disciplinarian activists. Numerous 
witnesses were called, and by October 1590 nine clerics, including 
Cartwright, were imprisoned, examined by the Commission, and 
finally, in May 1591, sent on to the Star Chamber. Before the Com- 
mission, the accused all refused the oath ex officio mero, and this, 
together with their nonconformity, provided grounds for the depriva- 
tion of all but Cartwright from their church livings. Throughout both 
Commission and Star Chamber procedures, the prosecutors attempted 
to prove that the participants in the network intended, in violation of 
the law, by setting up their presbyteries and synods, either to subvert 
the episcopal regime from within by seditious conspiracy or to sepa- 
rate from the established church. As one of those arrested wrote from 
prison, "Judge you: the thing [the authorities] ayme at is a conventi- 
cle." 59 

The prosecutors in the Star Chamber trial benefited from the rise of 
emotional temperature in July 1591 when two laymen, partly motivat- 
ed by the imprisonment of the ministers, announced a new messiah 
and divinely appointed king: one William Hacket, a mentally dis- 
turbed former serving-man, who, converted by Puritan preachers, had 
become convinced of his divine mission to seize power to bring in the 
new age. After his public outburst in London, government and courts 
dealt swiftly with Hackett and the other conspirators. Bancroft and his 
fellow commissioner, Richard Cosin (1549P-1597), both seized on the 
incident and, linking the deluded zealots with the disciplinarians, 

Popular report so explained Penry's execution; see a letter of 1 May from a 
student at Clifford's Inn to his brother in the Frere Papers, Historical MSS Commis- 
sion, 7th report, 1879, p. 223a; see also William Pierce, John Penry: His Life, Times, 
and Writings (London, 1923), pp. 355-481. 

Detailed accounts of the trial are found in Pearson, Thomas Cartwright, chaps. 5 
and 6; and in Collinson, E.P.M., Part 8.2—3. 

Edmund Snape, 11 April 1590, from Bancroft, Daungerous Positions, p. 92; see 
note following. Fuller states that current custom had given the word "conventicle," 
in spite of its being a neutral diminutive, the sense of "the meeting of such (how 
many soever) in a clandestine way, contrary to the commands of present lawful 
authority"; Church History (1845), 4:3. 


The Preface 

wrote of it to illustrate the way in which such teachings undermined 
the foundations of a stable society. They hoped the incident would 
underline the seditious character of the disciplinarian conspiracy. The 
presbyterian defendants, however, insisted that their meetings and 
even their subscribed "Book of Discipline" were in the nature of 
proposals to which they hoped to win the consent of queen and par- 
liament for peaceable and orderly change. True to their desire for 
reform of the established church, they consistently denied any intent 
to separate. The prosecutors lacked firm evidence of treasonous intent, 
and even though the clerical reformers' cases, like that of Throckmor- 
ton, were not resolved, all nine had been released from prison by the 
fall of 1592. 

As the 1593 Parliament opened, the status of the released defendants 
was nebulous, and they could be recalled before the court at any time. 
Morice's proposals to relieve "the hard courses . . . used towards . . . 
godly Ministers" struck at the core of the charges and methods of the 
prosecutors. Lively debate followed the introduction of the bills, but 
the queen caught wind of the matter the same day. She called Speaker 
Coke and sent back a message by him to the House, stating that it 
was in her power "to call Parliaments, ... to end and determine the 
same, ... to assent or dissent to anything done. It was not meant that 
[parliament] should meddle with matters of State or in Causes Ecclesi- 
astical." Morice himself was called before the Privy Council and 
remained confined to the home of a designated warden until the end 


of April. The disposition of the bills exemplifies both Elizabeth's 
consistent policy on church matters throughout the reign and the 

Bancroft made the Hacket "conspiracy" the climax of the account of secret 
Puritan plotting in his 1593 Daungerous Positions, chap. 12. In 1592, Cosin had 
published his Conspiracie, for pretended reformation: viz. presbyteriall discipline. Discovering 
the late designments by W. Hacket, E. Coppinger, and H. Arthington gent, with the execution 
of the sayd Hacket, STC 5823; see nn. 97 and 98, below. For a modern account, see 
John E. Booty, "Tumult in Cheapside: the Hackett Conspiracy," Historical Magazine 
of the Protestant Episcopal Church, 42.3 (1973): 293-317. 

See n. 37, p. 21, above. 

Heywood Townshend, Historical Collections: or An exact Account of the Proceeding 
of the Four last Parliaments of Q Elizabeth (London, 1680), pp. 62-63; Neale, 2:267- 
276; D'Ewes, pp. 478-479; Morice, "A Remembrance," pp. 117-118; CSP, Dom., 
1591-94, p. 322 (244.52). 



reciprocal involvement of religion in issues of parliamentary privileges 
and rights. 

A wide spectrum of Puritans retained their determined convictions 
and spiritual vigor, but the Commissioners had broken the back of the 
disciplinary movement that for at least a decade had provided the chief 
sinews of organization and the lines of communication for a wider 
body of advanced Protestants. Supporters of the establishment, how- 
ever, were probably more impressed with the newly revealed strength 
of the presbyterian network than they were aware of the disarray 
which their attacks had caused in the reformers' ranks. 

The recently strengthened claims advanced for episcopacy evoked 
a speech by a prominent Elizabethan who attacked bishops' rights to 
hold courts in their own names without special licence from the 
crown. Francis Knollys (1514?— 1596), Elizabeth's cousin and an exile 
during Mary Tudor's Roman Catholic restoration, the senior privy 
councillor present who had sat in every House of Commons from the 
beginning of the reign, supported Morice: the lawyer had spoken not 
"ageinst Ecclesiasticall Jurisidiction, but ageinst abuses in the clergy." 
From 1588 Knollys had sought to persuade the queen that bishops 
were undermining the royal supremacy by implicit claim to a jure 
divino authority independent of that granted by queen and parliament. 
Speeches against Morice's bill had evoked Knollys's Puritan sympathies 
and had renewed his conviction that Archbishop Whitgift's policy and 
its defenders were reviving a prelatical hierarchy, free of government 
control, that he thought had been quashed with the repudiation of the 
pope. Knollys reported the incident to Burghley, commenting that the 
civil lawyers opposing Morice 

would fayne have a kynde of Monarchye in the sayd Clergie 
government, as in the temporaltye, the which Clergie govern- 
ment they would have to be exempted from the temporall 
government, saving they speake not agaynst the Prynces gov- 
ernment towching the supremacye. 

Morice, "A Remembrance," p. 118; Knollys to Burghley, 28 February 1593, 
in Henry Ellis, ed., Original Letters Illustrative of English History, 3rd ser., vol. 4 


The Preface 

From his standpoint, Knollys had reason to be concerned. Not only 
were Bridges' and Bancroft's defenses of episcopacy in print, but in 
the early nineties, English supporters of episcopacy gained further 
confidence in the strength of their theological and historical posture. 
A scholarly Dutch Reformed pastor and theologian, Hadrian Saravia 
(1531—1613), attracted to the English church, emigrated and published 
his argument that none other than Jesus Christ himself had first 
instituted episcopal order. 

Before 1593 was out, the future bishop of Winchester, Thomas 
Bilson (1547—1616), published his defense of episcopacy, The Perpetual 
Governement of Christes Church (STC 3065), drawing heavily on Old 
Testament precedents. Defenders of English episcopacy no longer 
hesitated to affirm the scriptural roots of their polity and were no 
longer content to rest their case solely on long tradition, the royal 
will, and the statutes of parliament. 

Meanwhile, as parliamentary sessions proceeded, Greenwood and 
Barrow continued their advocacy of separatism from prison, were tried 
and convicted of sedition, and were executed on 6 April 1593. As 
though from the grave, their words were illegally spread abroad in a 
pamphlet which gave account of their witness to their principles and 
that of their fellow martyr, Penry, during interrogations. The two 
separatist prisoners and the third on the brink of separatism were 
convicted under a 1581 anti-Catholic bill: any who might "devyse 
and wrighte, print or set forthe any . . . Writing, conteyning any false 
sedicious and slaunderous Matter to the Defamacion of the Queenes 
Majestie . . . shall suffer suche paynes of Deathe and Forfeyture as in 
case of Felonye." The 1581 legislators had qualified the description of 

(London, 1896), p. Ill; Neale, 2:271-272; and Cargill Thompson, "Sir Francis 
Knollys's Campaign." 

De diversis ministrorum evangelii gradibus (1590; STC 21746); translated the 
following year as Of the diverse degrees of the ministers of the gospell (STC 21749). 

On Hooker's use of Saravia and Bilson, see the Introduction to Book VII, pp. 
321—322 and 336, below. 

The examinations of Henry Barrowejohn Greenewood and John Penrie. Penned by the 
prisoners themselves before their deathes (STC 1519); Milward dates it 1593? (p. 98), the 
Rev. STC 1596? (1:68). 



the infraction with the phrase "advisedlye and with a malicious 
intent," apparently to ensure that the measure would never be applied 
to loyal Protestants, but the phrase failed of its purpose twelve years 
later. During these same weeks the members of Parliament, which 
sat until 10 April, debated legislative action that for the first time in 
Elizabeth's reign would explicitly extend penalties for Protestant 
recusants beyond the largely unenforced mild fines of the 1559 Uni- 
formity Act. 

The anti-Catholic bill that began in the House of Commons on 26 
February and ultimately failed of passage would have increased the 
severe penalties already levied against recusant Roman Catholics. An 
alert Puritan noted dangers in the wording of the new penal clauses. 
The statutes might be interpreted to apply to separatists "who pretend 
to be of our religion" or even to "godly and zealous" Protestants who 
chose to attend, in preference to their own parish, a neighboring 
church with a pious preaching parson. The member did not wish so 
stiff penalties against the former nor any penalties against the latter 
(Neale, 2:282-283). When the bill came back from committee on 12 
March, the penalties were limited to "popish recusants." In debate the 
next day, Miles Sandys led the attack by establishment supporters on 
the committee amendment. He urged "that the bill might be as it 
went firstf,] Recustantes generally and not restrayned to Popish 
Recustantes only. . . . He thought it justice to include the Brownistes 
and Baroestes." In spite of these and other arguments, the House 
instructed the committee to reaffirm its action, limiting the application 
of the bill to "popish recusants." The committee did so, but the 
proposed statute never went beyond a second reading and so failed of 
passage. On the last day of the month the Lords sent to Commons 

67 23 Eliz. I, cap. 2, Statutes of the Realm, 4:659; Neale, 1:397 and 2:291; Elton, 
Parliament, pp. 186-187. 

68 Anonymous Journal, 19 February-10 April, 1593, BL, MS Cotton Titus F.ii, 
as transcribed and kept at 34 Tavistock Square, London, p. 113. 

69 D'Ewes, pp. 500, 502; Neale, 2:284-285. Throughout the legislative reports, 
"Mr. Sands" with no given name attached designates a speaker or committee mem- 
ber. Both R. A. Houk and C. J. Sisson assumed that Edwin was the speaker (pp. 51 
and 64, respectively; see nn. 76 and 77, below), and Neale confirmed this identifi- 


The Preface 

a bill curiously entitled "for explanation of a branch of a Statute made 
in [1581]." The bill applied the severe penalties of the earlier anti- 
Catholic bill to Protestant recusants. "Obstinate" separatists would 
have been subject to execution as well as to banishment, and the 
wording was capable, by interpretation, of ensnaring nonconforming 
Puritans as well. As one member put it, speaking "against Non-Resi- 
dents, Excommunication as it is used, or any other abuse in the 
Church . . . [would put one] in danger of the Law"; the clause against 
conventicles could be applied against a "Conference of any Persons 
together being of any number; the Prayers of Holy Exercise ... is an 
assembling against the Laws" (D'Ewes, p. 517). More than Puritan 
paranoia underlay the fear of such an establishment weapon: the cases 
of Cartwright and his companions were still pending, and it would 
have been a fine legal point to determine whether or not a "Bill for 
Explanation" of an earlier statute might be applied retroactively. 
Surprisingly, in view of his long record of sympathy with the Puritans, 
Lord Burghley served as the Lords' chief spokesperson and manipulat- 
ed the irregular procedures by which the bill passed from Lords to 
Commons. In the lower house Miles Sandys again spoke, support- 

cation with his statement that the speaker was "probably Edwin." Subsequent 
commentators on Hooker have followed Neale; see Theodore K. Rabb, "The Early 
Life of Sir Edwin Sandys and Jacobean London," Ph.D. diss., Princeton University, 
1961, pp. 21—22. P. W. Hasler and Alan Harding, however, assign the speech to 
Miles; see The House of Commons, 1558-1603 (1981), 3:342. In conversation, Mr. 
Hasler, after again reviewing the evidence, concluded that the speaker must have been 
Miles for the clerk to have identified him in that fashion. Miles had sat in the House 
since 1563 and was a frequent speaker and active committeeman; Edwin was only in 
his second parliament, and his much later fame must not influence a twentieth-century 
student attempting to envision the perspective of a clerk in 1593. Michael A. R. 
Graves, who is preparing a study of the later Elizabethan parliaments, also agreed, in 
conversation, that the referent should be identified as Miles rather than Edwin. 

"An Explanation of a Branch of a Statute, made in the Twenty-third Year of 
the Queen's Majesty's Reign, intituled, An Act to retain the Queen's Majesty's 
Subjects in their due Obedience [23 Eliz. I, cap. 1], with some Addition to the 
same"; the three readings in Lords took place on 26, 28, and 31 March; on 31 March 
it was sent to Commons. Joumab of the House of Lords (1846), 2:182, 184; Townshend, 
Collections, p. 76; D'Ewes, p. 513. 

Neale comments: "Though Burghley sponsored the measure, he cannot have 



ing the new anti-Brownist measure. Vigorous opposition in Com- 
mons to the severity of the Lords' bill led to a committee decision to 
write what was in effect a new bill, reducing its severity and carefully 
limiting its application to avowed separatists. In conference with 
Lords, the proposals of Commons were substantially substituted for the 
original measure. On the day after the execution of Barrow and 
Greenwood, Commons passed the statute and Lords promptly expe- 
dited it. Any who "shall obstynatlye refuse" to attend Common 
Prayer might be imprisoned until they submitted and promised to 
conform; after three months of refusal, such separatists were subject to 
banishment and those who sheltered them to stiff fines. A banished 
separatist who returned was to be "adjudged a Felon." 

Zealous defenders of the establishment had not won all they had 
sought. Although the queen had blocked Morice's attempt to set back 
their anti-Puritan campaign, they had not won from parliament any 
measures which they might effectively employ against the discipli- 
narians who strove to reform the established church from within. The 
fact remained, however, that for the first time, parliament had estab- 
lished substantial penalties for Protestants as well as for Roman Catho- 
lics who separated from the national church. Two years earlier Knollys 
had written in exasperation to Burghley over the royal support for the 
proceedings against Cartwright and the other imprisoned ministers: 

been happy about it. He seems at this time to have been outcountenanced in Court 
and Council by Whitgift" (2:288). Burghley had secured a reprieve for Barrow and 
Greenwood, and when they were executed during the Commons' consideration of 
the bill, he was seen speaking "sharply to the Archbishop of Canterbury, who was 
very peremptory"; see CSP, Dom., 1591-94, pp. 341-342 (244.124, letter of Thomas 
Phelippes to Wm. Sterrell). Neale further suggests that although Burghley's sympathies 
were with the Puritans rather than with Whitgift, he was "plagued by the godly 
importunities of the Puritans and perhaps [was] tiring of them" (Neale, 2:242). Clearly 
Burghley and Whitgift teamed up in the 1593 parliamentary proceedings. This was the 
first Parliament since the death of the devoutly Protestant Lady Mildred Cecil in 1589. 
Perhaps Burghley found it easier to support anti-Puritan legislation if he did not have 
to account to his wife for its passage; see Cal. MSS, Hatfield House, 5:71. 

72 D'Ewes, p. 517; Townshend, Collections, p. 76; Neale, 2:288-289. 

73 D'Ewes, pp. 519-520; Lords Journal, 2:190; Neale, 2:286, 290-294. 

74 35 Eliz. I, cap. 1; Statutes of the Realm, 4:841-842. 


The Preface 

I do marvell how her Majestie can be persuaded that she is in as 
much danger of such as are called Purytanes as she is of the Pap- 
ysts, and yet her Majestie cannot be ignorant that the Purytanes are 
not able to change the government of the clergie, but only by 
petition of her Majestie's handes. 

The early months of 1593, then, mark the point at which not only 
the queen but parliament as well formally recognized that unity of the 
English people within the national church might be endangered from 
its Protestant as well as from its Roman Catholic critics. And it was at 
this turning point in the struggles over the religious settlement that 
Richard Hooker's Lawes appeared. 

Hi. The 1593 Publication 

Books I— IV: The First Edition 

The immediate circumstances surrounding the publication of the 
first books of Richard Hooker's major work have come to light only 
in the last half-century. Until R. A. Houk's 1931 edition of Book VIII 
established 1593 as the year of the appearance of the Preface and Books 
I— IV of the Lawes, scholars followed Hooker's seventeenth-century 
biographer, Isaak Walton (1593-1683), in assigning it to 1594. C. 
J. Sisson in 1940 discovered, sifted, and interpreted court documents 
illuminating the whole scene of the author's family and home, his 
printer and patron, and the economic trials of publication. Subse- 
quent studies have built on these foundations together with those 
provided by the parliamentary studies initiated by Neale and the 

Thomas Wright, ed., Queen Elizabeth and her Times (London, 1838), 2:417; 
Neale dates this letter in May 1591 (2:325-326). 

76 Isaak Walton, The Ufe of Mr. Rich. Hooker (London, 1665; Wing W 670); rpr. 
in Works of . . . Mr. Richard Hooker, ed. John Keble, 7th ed. rev. R. W. Church and 
F. Paget (1888), 1:69 and 91, hereafter, Keble; see l:xiii-xiv; Ronald Bayne, ed., The 
Fifth Book (1902), p. xxxix, hereafter, Bayne; Raymond Aaron Houk, ed., Book VIII 
(1931; rpr. 1973), pp. 53-59. For a critique of Walton's Life, see David Novarr, The 
Making of Walton's "Lives" (1958), pp. 197-298. 

The Judicious Marriage of Mr. Hooker and the Birth of "The Laws of Ecclesiastical 
Polity" (1940); hereafter, Sisson. 



investigations of Elizabethan Puritanism nurtured by Collinson. 78 

An entry in the Stationers' Register of 29 January 1593 (N.S.) is 
the first record we have of the Lawes. It describes the work as "Eight 
bookes by Richard Hooker . . . Aucthorised by the lord archbishop of 
Canterbury his grace under his hand," and the title page of the 
volume begins: Of the Lawes of Ecclesiasticall Politie. Eyght Bookes 
(l:[xxxix]). Although the published volume contained only the 
Preface and the first four books, a reader would most naturally con- 
clude that the author had substantially completed eight books, that the 
archbishop had perused and approved them, and that the subsequent 
four would appear in the very near future. 

The reader's expectation would be reaffirmed on reading the 
Preface. Chapter 7 is entitled "The matter conteyned in these eyght 
bookes," and Hooker wrote of the contents of all eight in present and 
perfect tenses, suggesting their completion. In chapter 8, mention- 
ing the royal prerogative, Hooker affirmed its significance, "as in the 
last [eighth] booke of this treatise we have shewed at large" (§ 2; 1:39.11). 
Following chapter 9, the reader encounters a second summary of 
"What things are handled in the Bookes following" outlining the unpub- 
lished books as well as the four published in 1593. And in the opening 
chapter of Book I, referring to the general character of the first four 
in contrast to the "specialities" of the latter four books, Hooker wrote: 

I have endevoured throughout the bodie of this whole discourse, 
that every former part might give strength unto all that followe, 
and every later bring some light unto all before. So that if the 
judgements of men doe but holde themselves in suspence as 
touching these first more generall meditations, till in order they 
have perused the rest that ensue: what may seeme darke at the 


See nn. 12 and 13, above. 

A Transcript of the Registers of the Company of Stationers of London, 1554-1640 
(1875—1894), 2:625; on its publishing history, see l:xiii— xx, this edn. 

"I have . . . set doume. . . . I have spent the second booke. . . . The first three bookes 
being thus ended, the fourth proceedeth from the generall grounds . . . [unto] generall accusations 
.... Of those foure bookes which remaine and are bestowed about the specialties . . . the first 
examineth. . . . The second and third are concerning . . . the eight booke we have allotted . . . 
and have sifted. . . . Thus have Ilayd before you . . . and presented" (1:34.29, 35.8, 17, 27- 
28, 29, 33-34, and 36.7-10). 


The Preface 

first will afterwardes be founde more plaine, even as the later 
particular decisions will appeare, I doubt not more strong, when 
the other have beene read before. (§ 2; 1:57.24—33) 

It was to be some years before readers would be able to follow his 
advice: Book V did not appear until 1597, and, with only imperfect 
manuscripts of Books VI and VIII surviving Hooker's death in 1600 
(VII seems complete), not until 1662 were readers able to acquire 
published editions of eight books of the Lawes substantially as we have 


them today. The only hint in the 1593 edition of a possible delay 
appeared after Book IV in an appended "advertisement to the Reader": 

I have for some causes (gentle Reader) thought it at this time 
more fit to let goe these first foure bookes by themselves, then to 
stay both them and the rest, till the whole might together be 
published. Such generalities of the cause in question as here are 
handled, it will be perhaps not amisse to consider apart, as by 
way of introduction unto the bookes that are to followe con- 
cerning particulars. (1:345.1—7) 

Even the most gentle reader might have been expected to find exces- 
sive a delay of four — and finally of sixty-five — years. 

There are signs of haste in the Preface of the 1593 volume that are 
confirmed by the chronology of its publication. Barely six weeks 
passed from the entry of the Lawes in the Stationers' Register to a 
letter of 13 March from Hooker to Burghley, accompanying a pre- 
sentation copy of "these writings concerning the nobler part of those 
laws under which we live" (l:xviii). Georges Edelen has determined 
that, assuming John Windet, the printer and Hooker's cousin, added 
two additional compositors to the two who had begun to set the type, 
the printing could have been completed in three working weeks 
(l:xxix— xxx, 359—372). An interrogatory in the court records uncov- 
ered by Sisson, which included the phrase that the work had been 
"hastened by such eminente persons whome the cause did moste 
speciallie concerne" (Sisson, p. 145), confirms the haste in printing. 

The Preface comes to a natural end with chapter 7, which summa- 

Books VI and VIII were published in 1648, Book VII in 1662; for accounts of 
their publication, see 3:xiii-xxx and xliv-lxix, this edn. 



rizes the topics to be discussed in the forthcoming eight books. Instead 
of proceeding to Book I, however, Hooker continues with a chapter 
8, adds a brief concluding chapter 9, and then provides the second 
summary of the contents of the eight books. The awkwardness of the 
unexplained transition between chapters 7 and 8 belies Hooker's 
usually careful craftsmanship. 

More than half again larger than any previous chapter, chapter 8 
introduces a polemic of a different character from the arguments de- 
ployed in earlier chapters, and it contains a glaring exception to the 
author's usual careful use of his opponents' texts. In a quoted phrase 
from a recent Puritan pamphlet, Hooker turns its meaning upside 
down (1:50.2—5). The carelessness invited an attack on his accuracy 
and integrity. Chapters 8 and 9 with the table of contents following 
have the marks of a hasty addition. 

Two explanations have been given for the discrepancy between the 
actual publishing record and the apparent assumption in the initial 
volume that all eight books were substantially completed. One, a 
natural conclusion from Walton's narrative, holds that Hooker, pub- 
lishing Books I-V as he finished them and dying before he had 
completed the task, wrote his work serially during the decade of the 
nineties. Overly optimistic about the pace of his production while 

The integrity of this polemic is reflected in the publication of chapters 8 and 9, 
together with parts of chapter 79 of Book V, as a royalist tract in 1642: The dangers of 
new discipline, to the state and church discovered, fit to be considered by them who seeke (as 
they tearme it) the reformation of the church of England (Wing D 199). 

The quotation came from one of the pseudonymous Martin Marprelate 
pamphlets; see pp. 23—24, above. Assuming that episcopal polity were abolished in 
England, Martin had tauntingly asked the bishops, would they insist on their offices 
"whether her Majesty and the Counsell wil or no?" Reversing the sense of Martin's 
words, Hooker claimed that he had written that the disciplinarians — not the bishops 
would — impose their polity "whether hir Majestie and our state will or no"; see 
1:50.4— 5. r.n. In his narrative of the Anabaptists, Hooker also follows his source De 
Bres in two incorrect citations of biblical verses (incorrect, at least, for the English 
Bibles); see l:43.21-24.£.n and 44.7-1 7./.n. 

W. Speed Hill first laid out these alternatives in "Hooker's Polity: the Problem 
of the 'Last Three Books,' " The Huntington Library Quarterly, 34 (1971): 320. 

Walton does not address the Preface's inconsistency, but his account implies a 
serial production (Keble, 1:66-70, 84, and 91-97). Three modern critics who have 


The Preface 

writing the first volume, he proleptically anticipated the completed 
work. A corollary of this explanation requires the archbishop's approv- 
al to have been based on little more than the initial volume in manu- 
script and, perhaps, a prospectus of the remainder. 

A theory of serial production runs counter, however, to evidence 
provided by a manuscript known to Walton, printed by Hooker's 
principal nineteenth-century editor, John Keble (1 792-1 866), 86 and 
reprinted in volume 3 of this edition (105-140). George Cranmer and 
Edwin Sandys, Hooker's former pupils and junior colleagues at Ox- 
ford, had prepared detailed criticisms of a draft of Book VI. In Cran- 
mer's critique he referred to what Hooker had "done" already in "the 
booke of B[ishops]"; Book VII, apparently, was in draft at the time 
(3:126.6-7). Sandys's mention of "your printed bookes" establishes a 
terminus a quo for his, the second, part of the manuscript, namely, the 
publication of the first volume in March 1593 (3:130.29). His refer- 
ence to a speech by "Mr Speaker in the Parliament" (Edward Coke), 
together with other circumstantial details, suggest a terminus ad quern 
not too far removed from Parliament's adjournment on 10 April 
(3:133.27). The existence of a draft of Books VI and VII at this 

judged Hooker to have attempted to unify irreconciliable principles have also implicit- 
ly attributed the incompletion of the work to his struggles in composing the final 
books: H. F. Kearney, "Richard Hooker: A Reconstruction," Cambridge Journal, 5 
(1952): 300-311; Peter Munz, The Place of Hooker in the History of Thought (1952; rpr. 
1970); and Gunnar Hillerdal, Reason and Revelation in Richard Hooker (Lund: C. W. K. 
Gleerup, 1962). Sisson explicitly argued for serial writing (pp. 79-91). Rudolph 
Almasy, disagreeing with motivations proposed by Craig and Hill for Hooker's 
revision of the treatise, provides a case which is consistent with either serial produc- 
tion or a revision from different motives in "The Purpose of Richard Hooker's 
Polemic," Journal of the History of Ideas, 39 (1978): 251-270 (see n. 88, below, for 
references to Craig and Hill). P. G. Stanwood judges that the autograph working 
notes for Books VI and VIII suggest that Hooker wrote the books serially; it does not 
preclude an initial draft of all eight books (3:xx-xxiv). McGrade concludes from the 
evidence of these notes, however, that Book VI was undergoing substantial revision 
at Hooker's hands, and Gibbs reconstructs that revision; Booty argues that Book V as 
we have it was revised (pp. 237-242, 253-255, and 187-193, below). 
86 Keble, 1 :xxxiv-xxxvii and 3:108-139. 

See also 3:xxxi, and below, p. 260. Keble assumed the reference was to Speaker 
Yelverton in 1597, but he presented no evidence, such as Stanwood and Gibbs present 



early stage suggests that the clear implication of Hooker's words in the 

for Coke, to relate Sandys's topical content with that of Yelverton's utterances in 
Parliament. Sandys was almost certainly abroad at the time of the 1597 Parliament and 
the publication of Book V, as Nicholas Eveleigh, Sandys's steward and brother-in-law, 
deposed in 1614; see Sisson, p. 139. Keble's dating presumed that Cranmer and 
Sandys were working on the draft of VI in the last two or three years of Hooker's life 
(3:132n, and 2:598n). 

Further help in dating the manuscript is found in the absence of Cranmer and 
Sandys from England from mid- 1596 to mid- 1599 on a journey that inspired Sandys 
to propose the reconciliation of the churches in A Relation of the State of Religion; see 
n. 4, above. Entering the Middle Temple in February 1589, Sandys was admitted to 
new chambers on 26 November 1591 and on 1 December 1595 relinquished his place 
in the latter on 18 May 1596 to Nicholas Eveleigh, who had been admitted to the 
Temple on 11 November 1590; see Hopwood, Middle Temple Records, 1:312, 316, 
325, 359, and 364. On 26 June 1596, the Privy Council, in a communication 
regarding a law suit in which Sandys was involved, noted that he had been "expreslie 
comaunded by her Majestie to attend upon ... the Earle of Lincoln in his purposed 
Ambassage into Germany" and was "licensed afterwardes to travaile into other forreyn 
partes"; see John Roche Dasent, Acts of the Privy Council of England, N. S., vol. 25 
[1595-96] (London, 1901), p. 497. Cranmer was at The Hague on 27 July 1596, 
according to a letter from the Earl of Lincoln to Robert Cecil, and at Padua, Italy on 
26 May 1597, according to a letter from Cranmer himself to Cecil; see Historical 
Manuscripts Commission, Calendar of the Manuscripts of . . . the Marquis of Salisbury 
Preserved at Hatfield House (1883-), 6:289-290 and 7:217. Sandys and Cranmer were 
registered at the Genevan Academy on 6 November 1597; see S. Stelling-Michaud, 
he Livre du Recteur de I'Academie de Geneve (1559-1878) (Geneva: Droz, 1959), 1:126. 
Cranmer wrote to an unidentified correspondent from Orleans, France on 22 July 
1598 seeking employment; see Cal. MSS, Hatfield House, 8:270. Sandys dated the 
manuscript of his treatise 9 April 1599 at Paris; Europaz Speculum (The Hague: 1629, 
STC 21718), p. 248. Cranmer was in England in time to leave with Lord Mountjoy 
for Ireland on 26 February 1600, where he was killed in battle on 13 November, 
eleven days after Hooker himself died; see Fynes Moryson, An Itinerary . . . Containing 
[Fynes Moryson' s] Ten Yeeres Travell . . . Divided into III Parts . . . The II. Part. Contain- 
ed the Rebellion of Hugh, Earle of Tyrone (1617; STC 18205), 2:54 and 83-84; Keble, 
2:598; and Bayne, pp. xxxiii-xxxiv and 577-579. In his expansion of his translation 
of Camden's Annates, Robert Norton commented that Cranmer accompanied Sandys 
"in his travels into France, Germany, Italy, and other parts by the space of three 
yeeres"; Annals, or, the historie of . . . Elizabeth, trans. R. N. (London, 1635; STC 
4501). Walton followed Norton in the 1670 edition of Hooker's Life; both Norton 
and Walton had access to the Cranmers; see Bayne, p. 577n, and compare Houk, p. 
95. If Sandys and Cranmer left and returned together, the journey for both began 
early summer 1596 and was concluded in the summer or fall of 1599, making it 
unlikely that they read manuscripts of Books VI or VII while abroad. 


The Preface 

first volume are to be taken at face value: he had prepared a substantial 
(if imperfected) draft of eight books by the opening months of 1593. 
The second explanation for the discrepancy between the plain sense 
of the first volume and the actual publication record is consistent with 
the existence of such a draft: the advice of Hooker's friendly critics 
together with whatever may have been his own dissatisfaction with 
the state of the work led him to recast and expand the four later 


books. By the time he had finished Book V, he had a manuscript 
more than five times as long as Book I, the longest of the first four 
books; the present Book VII is almost twice, and VIII, one and one- 
half times the length of I. If completed in the manner that McGrade 
and Gibbs suggest below, Book VI would have been at least as 


lengthy as these. Newly discovered autograph notes demonstrate 
the care with which Hooker constructed his arguments and incorpo- 
rated new material as he revised his work. The question to be 
asked: why did Hooker decide that the first four, with the Preface, 
would go forward to publication in the first months of 1593? 

The signs of haste in the printing of the 1593 volume of the Lawes, 
the indications of a last-minute addition to the Preface, and the 
evidence for a draft of all eight books together suggest that particular 
circumstances of the moment must have led Hooker to publish the 
Preface and only four books in the opening months of 1593. A letter 
to Hooker from George Cranmer, who with Edwin Sandys vetted 
some if not all of the books of the Lawes, suggests why it was Hooker 
decided to expand the Preface. The record of the 1593 Parliament 
suggests why he decided to advance its publication together with 
Books I-IV. 

Those scholars who have opted for an initial completed draft in 1593 include 
Bayne (p. xxxix), Houk (as a possibility, but certainly by 1596; pp. 76-79, 82-86, and 
91—104); Hardin Craig, "Of the Laws of Ecclesiastical Polity — First Form" (1944); 
hereafter, Craig; Hill, "The Evolution of the Laws of Ecclesiastical Polity," S.R.H. 
(1972), pp. 117-158; Olivier Loyer, L'Anglicanisme de Richard Hooker (1979), 1:49-62, 
hereafter, Loyer; John Booty (below, pp. 187—193); and Lee W. Gibbs (below, pp. 

89 For Book VI, see below, pp. 237-242 and 253-255. 

See 3:xx-xxiv and 462-554, and below, pp. 237—246. 



The Preface: Contents and Audience 

Cranmer's letter is reprinted in the Commentary just before notes 
on chapter 8 (1:36.1 5-53. 15.n). Like chapters 8 and 9 of the Preface, 
it first appeared publicly as a 1642 royalist pamphlet. Walton, 
followed by Keble, dated it February 1598, but more recent studies 
link it more plausibly to the circumstances of 1593. Although the 
"excellent letter" is more a formal essay than a personal missive, there 
are direct addresses in which Cranmer urges Hooker to revise the 
present draft: "What further proofes you can bring out, ... I leave to 
your better remembrance. . . . One of those points, which I am desir- 
ous you should handle. . . . From hence you may proceed. . . . You 

may exhort " (see §§ 4, 6, 8, and 10, in 1:36. 15-53. 15.n, below). 

If the postulate of a completed 1593 draft is accepted, it is possible to 

Concerning the new church discipline, an excellent letter, written by Mr. George Cranmer 
to Mr. R. H. (1642; Wing C 6826; see n. 82, above). 

No date of inscription appeared in the 1642 publication. The letter appeared as 
an appendix in Walton's first (1665) edition of the Life with the assigned date, 
"February 1598" (p. 175) and was reproduced the following year in the 1666 edition 
of Hooker's Works (Wing H 2631), p. 31. Keble noted that the seventeenth-century 
archivist of the Corpus Christi College Library, William Fulman (1632-1688), had 
written this date on a copy of the 1642 pamphlet; either Fulman or Walton, who 
were in touch with one another, could have been its source (Keble, 2:598n and 598- 
610; 1 :xxvii— xxviii and [cxvii]). Cranmer's mention of what Hooker handled "in the 
beginning of the fifth book" may have suggested the date to those who thought only 
of a printed work, not of a possible draft. Bayne pointed out that Hooker included 
material that Cranmer had proposed in the Dedication to Book V: it would hardly 
make sense for Cranmer to have made these suggestions if the book had already been 
published; consequently, Bayne proposed a date shortly before the publication of the 
complete Book V (pp. xxxiii-xxxiv, 578n, and 577-588). Novarr concluded, in 
opposition to Keble, that Walton had used the 1642 pamphlet as a copy text rather 
than an independent, and perhaps original, manuscript, but he accepted Keble's dating 
(Walton's "Lives," pp. 247-248 and n. 92). Craig was the first to argue for placing the 
letter in 1593, as a stimulus to an addition of chapter 8 to the Preface ("First Form," 
pp. 100—101). Hill supported Craig, arguing that Cranmer's letter, together with the 
Cranmer-Sandys critique of VI, were the keys to understanding the whole process by 
which the publication of the Lawes was delayed and its parts expanded; see "The 
Problem," pp. 331-334, and "The Evolution," pp. 137-145. 


The Preface 
trace the ways by which Hooker responded to some of the Cranmer's 


concerns in revising the Lawes. 

Cranmer's opening words, "What posterity is likely to judge . . . ," 
allude to the opening of Hooker's Preface, quoted above (p. 1), and 
he later refers to "the beginning of the fift booke" (§§ 1 and 6; 
compare 1:1.9). He outlines the growth of the "favourers and fathers 
of the Discipline" in Elizabeth's reign, from the vestiarian controversy 
to the Marprelate pamphlets, crowning the survey with an extended 
account of the crazed Hacket and his two companions in the summer 
of 1591. The importance assigned to the incident is appropriate for 
one writing in the aftermath a year and a half later but less so after six 
or seven years have passed. 

Although Cranmer had before him a draft of a major part of the 
Lawes, if not of all eight books, two comments suggest that he was 
addressing a particular section of the treatise. In referring to the 
"cursed crew of Atheists," Cranmer proposed that "although you 
handle [the causes] in the beginning of the fift booke, yet here againe 
they may be touched" (§ 6). After discussing the atheists, Cranmer 
advised: "From hence you may proceed ... to another discourse, 
which I think very meet to be handled either here or elsewhere at 
large" (§ 8). In both cases, Cranmer wrote of "here" and a different 
part of the work under consideration as if both he and Hooker 'were 
well aware of the section to which "here" referred. The larger con- 
text of the letter suggests that "here" was the Preface. 

W. Speed Hill has described Cranmer's purpose aptly: the letter 
"was meant to persuade, not to inform. He is not telling Hooker 
things he did not know; he is urging upon him a role Hooker was 

Bayne cites parallels in V.Ded.; see pp. xxxiii and 578— 582nn. 
When Cranmer implicated the disciplinarians in the Hacket incident, he 
followed Cosin's account in the 1592 Conspiracie, for Pretended Reformation. Bancroft 
made a similar use of the incident in his 1593 Daungerous Positions and Proceedings, 4.5— 
14. When Hooker finally discusses the incident in 1597 (Ded.V; 2:3.15—4.30), he used 
it not as the culmination of the Puritan movement, but simply as an example of how 
"a sparke of error" may lead "in a cause of Religion to . . . desperate adventures" by 
those who "imagine infallible truth where scarce any probable show appeareth." 



reluctant to assume." Cranmer urged Hooker to criticize his oppo- 
nents not only for convictions they had openly owned, but also for 
possible consequences of their program. The degree of Hooker's 
reluctance to assume this role may be argued, but even a rapid reading 
of the Preface demonstrates that Hooker did not assume such a role in 
chapters 1 to 7 and that he vigorously exhibits it in chapter 8. If the 
break between chapters 7 and 8 is rightly judged to mark an addition, 
then surely Cranmer's letter explains it. 

The concerns of Cranmer's letter match the contents of chapter 8, 
whereas little in the early chapters does. After the brief introductory 
first chapter, Hooker proceeds in the second to discuss the origins of 
the presbyterian "new discipline" in Geneva, rooting it in the social 
and political circumstances of Calvin's leadership rather than in the 
scriptural grounds which the disciplinarians claimed for it. He ends the 
chapter with a brief historical survey of Puritan development, similar 
to Cranmer's except that Hooker's culminated, not with the scurrilous 
Marprelate and the psychotic Hacket, but with the theological po- 
lemic of Cartwright (Pref. 2.10; 1 : 12.1 1-12). 97 

"The Problem," p. 334; compare "The Evolution," p. 140. 
96 Hill, "The Problem," p. 331. 

Cranmer concluded his historical account: "Hereof read Doct. Bancrofts book" 
(§ 3). Craig judged that Cranmer referred to Bancroft's 1589 published sermon, where 
Bancroft spoke of incidents involving militant reformers and two apocalyptic preachers 
who had caused two recent incidents comparable to that of Hacket ("First Form," p. 
101; A Sermon Preached at Paules Crosse, pp. 7-8; see above, note 46). Since English 
custom changed years on 25 March, if Cranmer were writing before the publication 
of Lawes, he could not have been referring to the 1 593 published work, Daungerous 
Positions, which included an account of the Hacket incident. However, in the London 
circles in which Cranmer traveled, he might well have seen a manuscript of Bancroft's 
forthcoming work. This is the most probable candidate for the reference, but there are 
three other possibilities. If Cranmer intended the reference to refer, not specifically to 
Hacket, but to the larger historical survey, he could have been referring (1) to 
Bancroft's 1 589 sermon, as Craig thought, or (2) to a manuscript of Bancroft's other 
1593 publication that also appeared without the author's name, A Survay of the Pretended 
Holy Discipline. If Cranmer intended to refer specifically to the Hacket incident, candi- 
dates include (3) the manuscript of Daungerous Positions or, just possibly, (4) the 1592 
Conspiracie, for Pretended Reformation, attributed to Richard Cosin; this latter book 
appeared anonymously, and Bancroft referred to it in Daungerous Positions (p. 168). 


The Preface 

Recognizing that Puritan militancy attracted many religiously com- 
mitted men and women, Hooker discusses in chapter 3 the psycholog- 
ical process that has moved "the common sort so much to favour this 
innovation" (§ 5; 1:15.6). He then turns in the next chapter to the 
"leameder sort," and, scrutinizing the authorities on which they base 
their claims for the discipline, he suggests that they have "too much 
authorized the judgements of a few" (§§ 1 and 8; 1:21.10 and 26.32-33). 
Since the disciplinarians, confident of the scriptural mandate for their 
cause, are "earnest chalengers . . . of try all by some publique disputation" 
Hooker accepts the challenge in chapters 5 and 6 and describes appro- 
priate conditions for such a disputation. Above all, he insists that both 
sides agree that they will abide by a final "definitive sentence, without 
which almost impossible it is that eyther we should avoyd confusion, or ever 
hope to attaine peace" (5.1 and 6.3; 1:27.12-13 and 32.1-2). Underlying 
Hooker's demand for a process to arrive at a decision is a basic as- 
sumption: "A lawe is the deed of the whole bodie politike, whereof if ye 
judge your selves to be any part, then is the law even your deed also" (5.2; 
1:27.33—28.2). Hooker concludes these chapters with his summary of 
"the matter conteyned in these eyght bookes" to convince his adversaries 

Cranmer may have mistaken Cosin's colleague Bancroft for the author of this last 
work, for Cosin's authorship was not affirmed by either of the two writers who might 
have been expected to mention it. Camden later described the incident but did not 
refer to the book, although he identified Cosin as an opponent of the disciplinarians; 
in his obituary of Cosin, he similarly made no mention, although he indirecdy re- 
ferred to another of Cosin's works: An Apologie: of, and for sundrie proceedings by 
jurisdiction ecclesiasticall (STC 5820); see Camden, Annates rerum Anglicarum, et Hibemica- 
rum regnante Elizabetha . . . pars quarta (1627; STC 4496.5), pp. 34-39 and 171. Nor 
did William Barlow mention it in his 1598 biography of Cosin, although he did refer 
to Cosin's two other known works (Vita et obitus . . . Richardi Cosin, STC 1460, p. 
27). In his 1612 biography of Whitgift, George Paule identified Cosin as the book's 
author (The life of the most reverend prelate J. Whitgift, STC 19484, pp. 42-43). Accord- 
ingly, in 1592 or 1593 Cranmer might well have ascribed the Conspiracie to Bancroft. 
In any case, the reference to "Doct. Bancrofts book" in the singular is additional 
evidence for the earlier date for the letter. By 1597, he would be expected to identify 
which among Bancroft's three published works provided the appropriate example. 
Cranmer would certainly have known by then of Bancroft's authorship of his two 
significant polemical 1593 works as well as of the acknowledged sermon published in 



that "for the ecclesiasticall lawes of this land, we are led by great reason to 
observe them, and yee by no necessitie bound to impugne them" (7.1; 1.34. 
14—18). In none of these seven chapters does Hooker directly suggest 
that the implementation of disciplinary program might disrupt or 
destroy beneficent structures of English society. 

The title of chapter 8 signals the change in tone: "How just cause 
there is to feare the manifold dangerous events likely to ensue upon this 
intended reformation, if it did take place" (1:36.15—17; emphasis added). 
Cranmer had suggested that four groups had been at least strengthened 
by the would-be reformers: separatists (Brownists), "godless" politiques, 
atheists, and Roman Catholics; of these, he identified the Brownists as 
the "first rank" of those who had built upon disciplinarian founda- 

If the positions of the Reformers be true, I cannot see how the 
maine and generall conclusions of Brownisme should be false. . . . 
Above all points, I am desirous this one should be strongly 
inforced against them, because it wringeth them most of all, and 
is of all others . . . the most unanswerable. You may ... be heart- 
ily glad . . . [that] the Brownists might not appeare to have issued 
out of their loines: but untill that be done, they must give us 
leave to thinke that they have cast the seed whereout these tares 
are growen. (§ 4) 

Hooker opens chapter 8 with an argument put into the mouth of an 
imagined separatist addressing the reformers: 

From your breasts . . . we have sucked those things which . . . ye tearmed 
that heavenly, sincere, and wholesome milke of Gods worde, howsoever 
ye now abhorre as poison that which the vertue thereof hath wrought and 
brought forth in us. (§ 1; 1:36.32-37.3) 

After elaborating on this theme, he comments in his own voice: 
"TTtus the foolish Barrowist deriveth his schisme by way of conclusion, as to 
him it seemeth, directly and plainely out of your principles" (1:39.2—4). 

Cranmer had further urged Hooker to distinguish the "proper and 
essentiall points" from the "accidentall," identifying the former as 
"these two, overthrow of Episcopall, erection of Presbyteriall authori- 
ty." Opening the next section, Cranmer had identified a point "of 


The Preface 

great regard . . . which I am desirous to have enlarged . . . when they 
strike at the state Ecclesiasticall, they secretly wound the Civill State" 
(§§ 8 and 9). Although in chapter 8 Hooker does not reiterate Cran- 
mer's two principal points as such, he stresses the consequences he 
foresees if presbyterian discipline were to be established. The 
"changes likely to insue throughout all states and vocations within this land" 
will (1) diminish the authority of crown and nobility, (2) overthrow 
learning in "all commendable arts and sciences" by attacking their institu- 
tional structures at the two universities, and (3) abolish the need for 
civil lawyers, drastically reduce the need for common lawyers, and — at 
least potentially — transfer from English courts to local presbyteries "the 
most things handled in them" (§§ 2-4; 1:39.7-8, 40.4-5, 41.29). 

To drive home the dangerous character of the militants' program, 
Hooker draws on the example of the Anabaptists, the betes noires of 
sixteenth-century Europe (1:42.15— 49. 30.n). As did most of his 
contemporaries, Hooker used the excessive fanaticism of a radical 
fringe, who had had the most tenuous relations with the peaceful 
continuing body of Anabaptists, to characterize the whole movement. 
After reforming their own personal practices, they had "proceeded unto 
publike reformation, first Ecclesiasticall, and then Civil" (Pref. 8.7; 1:44.3— 
4). He concludes by advising the disciplinarians that since the world 
had had this "fresh experience" of radical religion, they must not be 
offended if "the sequele of your present misperswasions much more be doubt- 
ed, then your owne intents and purposes doe happily ayme at" (§ 13; 1:49. 
31—50.2). In the final clause of chapter 8, Hooker summarizes the 
distinctive arguments there presented: 

there is in everie of these considerations most just cause tofeare least our 
hastines to embrace a thing of so perilous consequence should cause 
posteritie tofeele those evils, which as yet are more easiefor us to prevent 
then they would be for them to remedy. (§ 14; 1:51.19—22) 

Hooker did highlight these two in the corresponding introduction to his next 
publication, the Dedication to Whitgift of Book V (§ 8; 2:5.26-31). He also included 
the Hacket incident and the Marprelate campaign in his historical account of the 
development of Puritanism — neither of which he had included at the end of chap. 2 
of the Preface (§§ 6 and 7; 2:4.2-5.24). 



Hooker had driven home two related points which Cranmer had 
urged: the logic of separatist conclusions from disciplinarian founda- 
tions and the threat of the reforming program to the stability of 
English society. Cranmer would not have had reason to write his 
letter to the author of the Lawes had this chapter already been before 

In the brief concluding chapter 9, Hooker returns to a conciliatory 
tone reminiscent of the earlier chapters, urging his opponents to re- 
examine and sift their arguments. Although, as he had demonstrated 
in chapter 8, "with us contentions are now at their highest floate" he trusts 
that "the passions of former enmitie" may be allayed so that with "ten 
times redoubled tokens of our unfainedlie reconciled love" he and they may 
"shewe our selves each towards other" as Joseph and his brethren had in 
Egypt (§ 4; 1:53:5-11). Since chapter 7 was now buried in the midst 
of the Preface narrative, Hooker added an explanatory table of con- 
tents of all eight books before beginning the formal treatise. 

What then was the relation between Cranmer's letter and his 
critique of Book VI? Sandys's comments came after March 1593 as a 
supplement to Cranmer's, but how long after is uncertain. In one 
comment, Cranmer began: "I could wishe that something were sayd 
to this effect concerning their Lay elders" (3:128.19-20). He proposed 
that Hooker challenge his opponents to admit that their presbyterian 
polity began at Geneva with Calvin so that they might enter into a 
"politique conference" rather than entering such a meeting convinced 
that their system alone was "commaunded of God." This judgment of 
the origin of Genevan polity is the topic of chapter 3 of the Preface, 
and Hooker lays down the terms of such a "disputation" in chapters 5 
and 6. Cranmer then briefly suggested, as he proposed at length in his 
letter, that the disciplinarians might be told of the dangerous social 
consequences of their platform: "contempt of the prince and nobility, 
insolency of the base people, etc. and such other as at your leasure 
you may conceave." Hooker did just that in chapter 8. Cranmer's 
suggestion sounds as if he had read neither the initial draft of the 

99 Sandys refers to "your printed bookes" at 3:130.29 and to "your objection 
against the precisians in your preface" (3:133.5); compare Pref. 8.4 (1:41.19-29). 


The Preface 

Preface nor its revision when he wrote the critique of Book VI. Per- 
haps the explanation is that Hooker, like many scholars, saved the 
Preface for last. 

If these interpretations of Cranmer's comments are correct, a 
chronological succession of the hypothetical and extant documents 
would be as follows: 

1. [Hooker's completion of a draft of eight books.] 

2. [Cranmer's and Sandys's comments on Books I— V.] 

3. Cranmer's comments on VI (extant). 

4. [Hooker's initial draft of the Preface — that is, chapters 1—7]. 

5. Cranmer's letter (extant). 

6. [Hooker's revision of the Preface — that is, the addition of chap- 
ters 8 and 9]; publication of Preface and I— IV. 

7. Sandys's comments on VI (extant). 

8. Hooker's revision of Book V and its publication in 1597. 

9. [Hooker's revisions of VI— VIII] (manuscript copies of part of VI 
and most of VIII extant). 

The Lawes: Sponsorship and Publication 

Hooker became known as a public opponent of the Puritans only 
after, as master of the Temple church, he had been challenged by 
Travers, his predecessor's deputy and the continuing reader. Prior 
to his appointment and probably in 1584, in a sermon at the in- 
vitational pulpit outside London's St. Paul's Cathedral, Hooker's treat- 
ment of predestination had caught Travers's attention and evoked his 
disapproval: Hooker had taught "otherwise then the word of god 
doeth." This incident foreshadowed Hooker's eventual theological 


stance. Apart from this sermon, however, what little is known 

For accounts of the Hooker-Travers Controversy, see 5:261-269, 628—629, 
and 641—648, this edn.; for a selection of contemporary documents, see Supplement 
I, 5:271-292. 

Walton dated it "in or about the year 1581" (Keble, 1:22); Georges Edelen 
dates it in 1584; see Chronology, p. xxii, above. 

102 See Travers's Supplication (5:198.14-20) and Hooker's Answer, §§ 7-8 (5:235. 
29—236.19). No other contemporary references to the Paul's Cross sermon have come 



about Hooker's early career contains no hint of his later role as estab- 
lishment apologist. 

Hooker's early patron, John Jewel, had spent most of Mary's reign 
in Zurich. Obedient as bishop in "things indifferent," Jewel's polemi- 
cal writings against Rome emphasized the congruity of the English 
church with patristic tradition in ways that ultimately contributed to 
the development of what has come to be known as "Anglican- 
ism." Nonetheless, Jewel had drawn no clear lines to distinguish 
English teaching and church life from that of the continental Re- 
formed communities with whom he had lived during Mary's 



Corpus Christi College had strong Puritan associations during 
Hooker's years at Oxford. During Mary's reign, William Cole had 
resided successively in Zurich, Frankfort, Basel, and Geneva. Be- 
fore assuming the college presidency, he had ministered in the English 
congregation at Antwerp, which had been largely assimilated to the 
surrounding Reformed congregations (Travers had served the same 
congregation before he came to the Temple, and Cartwright had suc- 
ceeded him). When Hooker became a probationary fellow of Corpus 
in 1577, one of his senior associates was the future successor to Cole, 
John Rainolds, already on his way to becoming the most prominent 
Puritan theologian in the university. 

Rainolds was much more the scholarly academic than an ecclesias- 

to light. In two sermons on Jude, now dated in 1582-83, Hooker's strong condemna- 
tions of Rome would have been cheered by Puritans and establishment supporters 
alike (5:13-57). 

See pp. 2ff., above. 
104 In 1559 and 1562 letters to Peter Martyr, Jewel affirmed that the English 
differed not "in the slightest degree" nor "by a nail's breadth" from Zurich's and 
Martyr's doctrine. In a 1566 letter to Bullinger and his son-in-law, Lewis Lavater, in 
Zurich, Jewel acknowledged that English use required clergy to wear the surplice, but 
expressed his wish that this with "all vestiges of popery" might be abolished; The 
Zurich Letters, PS (1842-45), 1:21, 101 and 149. See John E. Booty, John Jewel as 
Apologist of the Church of England (1963). 

Christina Hollowell Garrett, The Marian Exiles (1938; rpr. Cambridge: The 
University Press, 1966), p. 123; see pp. 13 and 16, above. 

For Hooker's appointment, see Chronology, p. xx, above. 


The Preface 

tical leader. Although he advised conformity when it was demanded 
by authority, he advocated a "starkly supralapsarian" doctrine of 
predestination and was named in the 1591 Star Chamber investigations 
by a witness as one who had participated in the Oxford classis in the 
eighties. In a 1580 letter to Knollys, Rainolds reported that "both 
me and Mr. Hooker, and three other of our fellows" had been ex- 
pelled from the college. In erroneous expectation of an imminent 
departure of the president, they had opposed a maneuver intended to 
replace Cole with an establishment rigorist. Hooker may have been 
motivated by personal and collegiate statutory rather than by ecclesias- 
tical considerations; Rainolds wrote of the action as an "unrighteous 
dealing . . . against all law and reason." Nonetheless, on this only 
known occasion of Hooker's participation in a university issue with a 

. • 108 

religious dimension, Hooker was aligned on the Puritan side. 

Correspondence has survived to suggest that Hooker and Rainolds 
maintained their friendship after Hooker left Oxford for London at 
the end of 1584. In his notes on Book VI, Cranmer referred to 
"D. Raynoldes note in the former bookes," advising Hooker to seek 
information on a detail of patristic history from him "when you send 
your booke" (3:108.32 and 112.3). It would seem that Hooker had 
asked for the scholar's comments on his manuscript and intended to 
send him a copy of the first volume. The relationship reminds us that 
disagreement, in and out of the academic community, need not have 
precluded mutual respect and personal friendship and that the disputes 
between Puritans and supporters of the establishment were fundamen- 
tally family disagreements whose lines of division often refuse to fit the 
neat divisions of their later interpreters. 

107 Collinson, E.P.M., p. 320; for Rainolds, see Dent, Protestant Reformers, pp. 
106, 132—133 (and, more generally, chaps. 5 and 6). 

108 Walton included the letter, which remains among the Fulman MSS (Keble, 
1:19-21); see Novarr, Walton's "Lives," pp. 285-286. 

109 A letter of 4 December 1584 from the London printer George Bishop to 
Rainolds tells of Hooker's acting as an agent for the publication of a Rainolds 
manuscript (Fulman MSS. IX, 214 r ; see Sisson, p. 21). There are two letters from 
Hooker to Rainolds while the latter was in residence at Queen's College, Oxford, 
between 1586 and 1598 (Keble, 1:109-114). Another letter, of uncertain date, in 
Latin, is printed and translated in this edition, 5:421-434. 



The immediate setting for the Lawes, however, was not Oxford but 
the Temple, as Walton wrote: "the foundation of these books was laid 
in the Temple" (Keble, 1:66). The dispute there with Travers forced 
Hooker to articulate, for the first time to a wide public audience, 
some of the more technically theological implications of the Elizabe- 
than settlement, and Travers's challenge to his authority as master 
prompted him to think through his own reasons for supporting the 
ecclesiastical structures that in turn supported him. Though the con- 
nections are indirect, the continuity of the content of the Lawes with 
that of the Temple dispute is patent. However, no firm evidence 
supports Walton's assumption that, with the unequivocal blessing of 
Archbishop Whitgift, Hooker maintained a continuous single-minded 
trajectory from 1586 to 1593 and beyond as he worked on his treatise. 
Even less evidence sustains the hypothesis of an explicit commission 
from the ecclesiastical hierarchy that had begun before Hooker was 
appointed to the mastership. 

An observer today can only speculate when Hooker conceived and 
initiated the project. He married Joan Churchman (d. 1603) in 1588, 
had fathered four of his six children by 1593, and in 1591 resigned the 
Temple in exchange for three joined livings in the diocese of Salis- 
bury. Although he probably spent some time in Salisbury and 

110 See Hill, "Doctrine and Polity in Hooker's Laws" English Literary Renaissance, 
2.2 (Spring 1972): 173-193. 

Sisson clarified many of Walton's errors regarding Hooker's career as well as 
his family life, but he went beyond his own skilfully assembled evidence in suggesting 
that Hooker undertook his work "as the deputed spokesman of the Church," an 
assignment which had, in fact, determined his earlier appointment to the Temple (pp. 
4—6). Novarr's clear analysis of Walton's ability to make "the wish or thesis the father 
of the fact" lessened the evidential value of Walton's account of Hooker's plea to 
Whitgift for a place of "peace and privacy" to complete his treatise (Keble, 1:67; 
Novarr, Walton's "Lives," pp. 266 and 287-289). Craig proposed that Whitgift 
"possibly encouraged Hooker to proceed with his work" ("First Form," p. 96). Hill 
pointed out that Hooker's "own desire" to respond to the issues raised at the Temple 
is sufficient to account for the origin of the work, a view which is "not incompatible 
with," but does not "require" an archiepiscopal commission; "Evolution," S.R.H. 
(1972), p. 130. See also Richard Bauckham, "Hooker, Travers and the Church of 
Rome in the 1580s," Journal of Ecclesiastical History, 29 A (1978): 50. 

1,2 Sisson, pp. 21-22 and 124-125. The Salisbury livings included the subdeanery 


The Preface 

Boscombe after 1591, his principal residence after his marriage re- 
mained the London house of his father-in-law John Churchman 
(1534—1614), a prominent and wealthy city merchant. 

His residence with the Churchman family provides a continuing 
link with Sandys, who was on intimate terms with the Churchmans, 
and another less certain one with Cranmer. As their former tutor, 
Hooker was seven to nine years their senior, but the frank language of 
their comments on Book VI bespeaks a developed mutuality in their 
friendship. Circumstantial evidence links Sandys's family and associates 
with the Churchmans, and it may well be that Sandys originally 
introduced Hooker to the family, perhaps on the occasion of Hooker's 
Paul's Cross sermon. Sandys's family had extensive ties with the 
Middle Temple, one of the two neighboring lawyers' Inns of Court 
to which Hooker was chaplain from 1585 to 1591. 

and a prebend of the Cathedral and the rectory of Boscombe; see John Le Neve, Fasti 
Ecclesiae Anglicanae, ed. T. Duffus Hardy (Oxford, 1854), 1:273, 2:621, and 624, and 
the new University of London edn. for 1531-1857, Vol. 6, Salisbury Diocese, ed. 
Joyce M. Horn (London: Institute of Historical Research, 1986), p. 60. 

113 Sisson, pp. 21-22, 25-26, 124-125, and 145. Hooker also spent some time at 
Churchman's country house in Enfield, Middlesex (pp. 30, 46, and 125—126). 
Hooker's presence in Salisbury for his installation on 23 July 1591, for an episcopal 
election on 30 November, and to preside at the subdean's court on 1 December 
suggest that, between his institution and his resignation in 1595, he either resided 
there or at Boscombe for longer or shorter periods or that he travelled to Salisbury 
from time to time; see Chronology, p. xxiv, above. 
Sisson, pp. 25—28, 44 and n., and 124-125. 

Edwin's uncle, Miles, served as the principal officer of the society for the 
unusually long term from 1588 to 1596. Four of Edwin's brothers and five of his 
cousins, sons of Miles, were also admitted to the Middle Temple. Edwin was admitted 
without payment of the usual fee "because he is nephew of the Treasurer"; Cranmer, 
admitted on the same occasion and bound with Edwin, paid three pounds. Miles' sons 
and years of admission: Edwin, 1579; William and Miles, 1584; George and Henry, 
1594; Archbishop Edwin Sandys' sons: Samuel, 1579; Thomas, 1588; Edwin, 1590; 
Henry, 1591; and George, 1596; see Hopwood, Middle Temple Records, 1:230, 303, 
311-312, 318, 336, 365, 367, and 368; also Herbert A. C. Sturgess, Register of 
admissions to . . . the Middle Temple, from the fifteenth century to . . . 1944 (London, 
1949), 1:45, 53, 60, 61, 65, and 70; Sturgess does not distinguish the two Edwins. 
The entry for Edwin and George Cranmer: "12 Feb., . . . Mr. Edwin, second son of 



Later court depositions establish that Sandys, who entered the 
Middle Temple in 1590, himself lived the better part of three to five 
years at the Churchman house beginning in 1588, and that he was 
certainly there at the time of 1 593 Parliament and the publication of 
the Lawes. The depositions paint a picture of a hospitable house- 
hold in which the residents' circles of friends were welcome: "diverse 
of [Sandys's] Frends that did many tymes come thither unto him and 
weare entreated to dyne or supp there before they went." Cran- 
mer, Sandys's companion at Oxford, the Temple, and in later Europe- 
an travels, would likely have been a frequent guest (see n. 87, above). 

Hooker wrote the Lawes at the Churchman home, and Benjamin 
Pullen, "the man that wrote owte the sd M r Hokers Bookes faire," 


was a clerk in Churchman's employ. Household conversation, 
involving Sandys as well as the family and such visitors as Cranmer, 
would naturally have included some discussion of Hooker's progres- 
sing work. The surviving critiques demonstrate that, at some stage, 
Hooker asked his two former students for more serious and detailed 
involvement in the Lawes. In Cranmer's critique of Book VI, he 
referred to Sandys' judgment on Hooker's "second booke" (3:121.30); 
he also reminded Hooker that he well knew "Mr Sandes mynd and 
myne" of a word ("Th'aforesayd") employed in the draft (3:116.28). 

Edwin Sandis archbishop of York, deceased, specially, no fine, because he is nephew 
of the Treasurer. Bound with Mr. Cranmer. George son and heir-apparent of Thomas 
Cranmer of Canterbury, gent, specially; fine 3/" (Hopwood, 1:312). 

Eveleigh established the year 1588 as the beginning of Sandys's "soujourne" 
with the Churchmans (Sisson, p. 140). Phillip Culme, servant to Churchman at the 
time of Sandys's residencies, established the presence of both Hooker and Sandys 
when the books were "sett forth," identifying periods of "two yeares," a "yeare or 
thereabouts," and after a time in Yorkshire, "one yeare and more" (pp. 145 and 147); 
see also pp. 28—33, 131 (John Churchman), and 142 (interrogatory), and 135 and 149 
(Robert Churchman, Joan's brother). Sandys was probably not in London for the 
1586 Parliament; although the son of the archbishop has usually been considered the 
Edwin Sandys elected from Andover, Hasler and Harding assign the seat to the son of 
Miles Sandys, who bore the same name (77ie House of Commons, 1558-1603, pp. 339 
and 341). 

117 Sisson, p. 150 (Robert Churchman); also pp. 32-33 and 142; and 147 (Culme). 

118 Sisson, pp. 48, 130 (John Churchman), and 135 (Robert Churchman). 


The Preface 

The comments suggest a background of more extended critical discus- 
sions and written commentaries that have not survived. 

Were Cranmer's and Sandys's contributions to the inception of the 
Lawes extensive enough to describe the project as a collaboration? Or 
are the two critiques of Cranmer and Sandys simply specimens of a 
wide range of comments that Hooker sought and received as well 
from Rainolds and others? Responding later to a suggestion in A 

Rainolds's involvement is noted above (pp. 53—54). The possibility of Whit- 
gift's is circumstantial, resting on his role as archbishop, his previous role as the 
principal literary opponent of the Puritans, his support of Hooker at the Temple, 
Hooker's fulsome dedication of Book V to him, and the likelihood that he would 
have put his library at Hooker's disposal. In his commentary on Book V, having 
consulted sixteenth-century volumes in the archiepiscopal Lambeth Palace Library 
cited by Hooker, Bayne identified contemporary underlining of relevant passages in 
three volumes (pp. 46, 85—86, and 341), four such volumes with Whitgift's arms (pp. 
85-86, 78, 308, 341, and 556), and two other volumes (pp. 85 and 531). Although 
no explicit evidence links John Spenser, Rainolds's successor as president of Corpus, 
with Hooker in the years after their collegial relationship at Corpus, Spenser was 
Hooker's principal literary executor (see 5:xiv— xvii), responsible for the publication of 
the Tractates and Sermons and preparing the introductory address "To the Reader" 
for the 1604 edition of the Lawes (rpr., this edn., 1:346-348). In a 1615 posthumously 
published sermon of Spenser, the editor, Hamlett Marshall, "his Minister for a space 
of five yeares," indirectly suggested Spenser's contributions to the Lawes: "he had 
taken extraordinary paines, together with a most judicious and complete Divine, . . . 
about the compiling of a learned and profitable worke now extant, yet would hee not 
be moved to put his hand to it, though hee has a speciall hand in it, and therfore it 
fell out, that tulit alter honores [another took the honors]" (A Learned and Gracious 
Sermon Preached at Paules Crosse (STC 23096), fol. 3 rv ; see also DNB, s.v. John 
Spenser). If the comment applies to Hooker, the implication of literary piracy may be 
the product a protege's biased loyalties, but consultations in the production of the 
Lawes could well underlie the information on which Marshall based his statement. The 
sermon itself strikingly parallels Hooker's essay on ecclesiology in III. 1.4—13 (1:196— 
204). Another possible consultant was Robert Some, master of Peterhouse, Cam- 
bridge, generally identified with advanced Protestant causes, who attacked Penry for 
his separatist tendencies and was in turn answered by both Penry and Throckmorton 
(see Collinson, E.P.M., pp. 124 and 257; STC 22908, 19604, 11909, and 12342; see 
also 2:107.8— \2.g.n, below); in his notes on Book VI, Cranmer comments: "I could 
wishe for more perspicuity (for that is it which D. Some requireth in your booke) 
. . ." (3:112.4—5). The Cranmer-Sandys critique of Book VI is analyzed below, pp. 
260-261, 267-270, and 303-308. 



Christian Letter, the anonymous 1599 attack on Books I— V of the 
Lawes, that he "peruse [his work] advisedlie," Hooker noted in the 

The bookes you mention have bene perused. They were seen 
and judged of before they came abroad to the open view of the 
world. ... As learned as any this realme hath saw them and red 
them before they ever came to your hands. (4:69.7, 15—19) 

The congenial atmosphere of the Churchman home in the city of 
commerce, government, legal studies, and intellectual ferment pro- 
vided an appropriate setting for the creation of a treatise that would 
incorporate in a single argument the abstractions of what we would 
call political theory, the practical public issues of what Hooker called 
"politie," and the inward yearnings of individual believers for assur- 
ance and "Certaintie . . . of Faith." 

By the beginning of 1593, Richard Hooker had progressed far 
enough in his work to begin to search out a printer to publish it. His 
initial efforts were discouraging, for, unless subsidies were provided, 
"dyvers Printers" refused to undertake the project because "bookes of 
that Argument and on that parte were not saleable." Sandys, 
"who was then daily Conversant" with Hooker, "at length fyshed 
owte the Cause of his malencholy" and offered to print the book "at 
his owne Charges." 121 On 26 January 1593, Sandys and the printer 

120 In the 1613 court depositions, Spenser had "credibly herd" of such results of 
Hooker's dealings with the printers (Sisson, p. 134). John Bill, a stationer, reported 
that "dyvers Stationers dyd refuze to printe the sd bookes at their Charges" — one of 
the most prominent, William Norton, expressly "for feare of losse" (p. 132). William 
Stansby, the printer who succeeded to Windet and who printed the Lawes in 1611, 
testified that he had heard that "some dyd denye to deale with printing the sd bookes 
because the Charge was thought to be to greate" (p. 137). Eveleigh reported that 
printers had been "fearfull" of the venture "for that the bookes of a reverent man 
being then newly printed were badly soulde" (p. 138), whom Sisson identified as Dr. 
Henry Smith (pp. 51-52). 

121 See Spenser's 1613 deposition (Sisson, p. 134). Eveleigh reported that Sandys 
undertook the charges "principally for the love and good respect" which he bore to 
Hooker (p. 138). See pp. 130 (John Churchman), 134-135 (Robert Churchman), 145 
(Culme); also, pp. 52—53. 


The Preface 

John Windet signed a formal agreement for the publication by which 
Sandys paid the expenses of printing and, in turn, received ownership 
of the printed copies for sale. Sandys and Hooker agreed that 
Sandys, in addition to providing Hooker with a specified number of 
copies, would pay him "ten pounds for the fyrst fower bookes . . . 
[and] forty pounds for the fower later bookes." (If Sandys intend- 
ed the payments to reflect the length of the works, the figures suggest 
that he expected Books V— VIII to be four times the length of I— IV.) 
If the books sold well, the terms appear to have been a fair investment 
for Sandys, but the printers remained dubious. As the matter turned 
out, sales were slow, and, after a careful financial analysis, Sisson 
judged that "Sandys probably did little more than at best to balance 
his account upon the book" (p. 78). 

Since establishing the year of publication of the first volume, 
scholars have proposed that the \ appearance of Hooker's Lawes was 
related to the parliamentary proceedings of 1593. As they relied on 
the judgment that it was Edwin Sandys who took an active role in the 
promotion of legislative action against separatists, the connection 
appeared thoroughly reasonable (see n. 69, above). "Mr. Sandes" was 
a member of the committee assigned to consider the original govern- 
ment legislation that threatened advanced Protestant recusants as well 
as the "papists" identified in the preamble as the targets of the propos- 
al. He spoke on 13 March in favor of the original form of the bill 
that would not have limited it to Roman Catholic recusants (n. 68, 
above). After that bill died, three weeks later on 4 April he spoke 
again to the new bill the Lords had devised and Burghley had present- 
ed for consideration, the "Bill for Explanation of a Branch of a 
Statute" that had originally applied only to Roman Catholics. He was 

122 Sisson, pp. 128 (interrogatory), 130 (John Churchman), 132 (Spenser), 135 
(Robert Churchman), 137 (Stansby), 139 (Eveleigh), 145 (Culme), and pp. 49-60; 
also, l:xvi— xvii, above. 

123 See Eveleigh's 1613 deposition (Sisson, p. 139); pp. 133-134 (Spenser) and 140 

For detailed discussion, see Sisson, pp. 53-60 and 66-78; also, l:xvi-xvii and 
xx-xxii, this edn. 

D'Ewes, p. 477. 



again named to the committee to whom the bill was committed, and 
was undoubtedly involved in the negotiations that led to the careful 
distinction between openly avowed separatists and other advanced 
Protestants. Although more recent scholarship identifies "Mr. Sandes" 
as Edwin's uncle, Miles (n. 69), the link between the publication of 
the Lawes and the parliamentary session remains firm. The records of 
the Middle Temple suggest the network of relationships among the 
members of the Sandys family there, and the terms of Miles as treasur- 
er (principal officer) of the Inn and Hooker as master of the Temple 
overlapped for three years. Miles and Edwin both sat in the 1593 
House of Commons, and Miles's championing the legislation against 
Protestant recusants matches the concerns of the Preface and body of 
the Lawes. 

The first volume of the Lawes attacked the claims to divine sanction 
that Puritans, in and out of parliament, claimed for their platform. 
Chapter 8 of the Preface spoke directly to the two-pronged cause that 
Miles Sandys was championing in the national legislature. First, it 
identified out-and-out separatists as potentially dangerous to the 
stability of English society as the Anabaptists had been to Munster, 
and, consequently, worthy of the penal measures which were to 
emerge from the current parliamentary sessions. Second, the chapter 
placed responsibility for the growth of English separatism squarely on 
the shoulders of militant Puritans, providing a clear case for the 
unsuccessful proposals urged by Whitgift and his supporters which 
might be employed against the disciplinarians. The character of these 
issues in the 1593 Parliament provides a most reasonable context for 
the otherwise puzzling statement of Hooker in the concluding chapter 

D'Ewes, p. 517, and see n. 115, above. The second speech and the committee 
assignments would be more likely to have been held by the member active in the 
issue, especially for one in favor of the government position. Hasler and Harding 
consistently credit Miles, and not Edwin, with these roles (The House of Commons, 
1559—1603, 3:339—343). Rabb assumes that the leave of absence given to Miles on 17 
March meant that he went home and did not return to the session; if so, Edwin must 
have given the 4 April speech and served on the committee. Hasler and Harding, 
however, conclude that Miles did return (Rabb, "Sandys," p. 24; Hasler and Harding, 


The Preface 

9 that "with us contentions are now at their highest Jloate" (§ 4; 1:53.6). If 
Lord Burghley read the Preface in his presentation copy, it would 
have steeled him for the leading role he played in promoting the 
anti-Puritan legislation two weeks later (see n. 71, above). 

Commenting on the failure of one pro-establishment publication to 
appear in time for the parliamentary session, Morice noted that it 
"should have bene published so as it might have concurred with the Par- 
liament, as many other concerninge the government of the Churche." 
"Many other" would certainly include the Lawes, and if Bilson's work 
on episcopacy and Bancroft's two 1593 volumes on the disciplinarian 
movement had appeared in time, Morice may have pointed to a major 
thrust by establishment supporters to provide literary support for their 
parliamentary plans. Sandys's subsidy ensured that Hooker's work 
might be among them. 

An expectation of financial success seems unlikely to have played a 
part in Sandys's offer. The later court depositions speak only of his 
"love and respect" for Hooker, or as another put it, his "much 
beholdinge . . . for the learninge and Instructions that he . . . receaved 
from and by" his former tutor. Yet the investment was more 
than a personal favor. Sandys's probable role in concert with his uncle 
in parliament is consistent with his critiques of Book VI: he shared 
Hooker's concern to defend the terms of the Elizabethan settlement 
equally from attacks of the disciplinarians and the separatists. 

One of the interrogatories in the 1613 court depositions suggests an 
official interest in the publication: it had been "hastened by such 
eminente persons whome the cause did moste speciallie concerne" 
(Sisson, p. 145). The phrase does not seem to describe either Cranmer 
or Sandys. Both were young men partly engaged in their law studies, 

127 "A Remembrance," pp. 132-133 (my italics). Morice referred to a new and 
much expanded version of Richard Cosin's An Apologie: of and for Sundrie Proceedings 
(London, 1593; STC 5821). The first edition (STC 5820) had appeared two years 
earlier in response to Morice's own A Briefe Treatise ofOathes Exacted by Ordinaries and 
Ecclesiastical Judges ([Middelburg: R. Schilders, 1590?!, STC 18106). Morice suggests 
that his parliamentary speech had motivated Cosin to produce the revision "thoughe 
somewhat to late" (p. 132). 

128 Sisson, p. 151 (Robert Churchman), and see n. 121, above. 



with the extended tour of the continent still ahead of them. Cranmer, 
the great-nephew of the martyred archbishop of Canterbury, and 
Sandys each came from well-known ecclesiastical families, but their 
own careers were just beginning. Already familiar with Hooker's 
developing treatise, Sandys and Cranmer were surely part of the 
London circle that generated a concern on the part of Whitgift and 
other "eminente persons" that Hooker's manuscript essays be printed 
in time for the legislative campaign. In the winter of 1592— 1593, the 
urgings of Cranmer for the particular arguments that emerged in the 
addition of chapters 8 and 9 of the Preface are of a piece with the 
legislative plans being laid out for the coming parliamentary session. 

Even if Hooker had himself been able to find a publisher for his 
work, he might still have been pressured by Sandys and others to 
hasten its publication. Yet Sandys's offer made him beholden in a way 
which made it difficult for him to refuse to cooperate. No evidence 
reveals the extent to which, if at all, Hooker regretted the the awk- 
ward seam between chapters 7 and 8 and the misuse of the Marprelate 
quotation (see n. 83, above). If he was aware of them, however, and 
if he attributed them to the haste with which he was forced to pro- 
duce the volume, it may have made him determined to take whatever 
time was required to bring the remaining four books to the perfection 
he envisioned for them. 

iv. The Preface: Sources and Style 

While the Lawes may be considered a timeless classic, its Preface is 
explicitly a piece d'occasion. Using the rhetorical device of direct address 
to "them that seeke . . . reformation" it is printed in italics with quota- 
tions in roman type, typographically the reverse of the body of the 
treatise. Whether the contemporary readers were the Puritans to 
whom the Preface was addressed, the supporters of the establishment, 
the undecided, the confused, or the indifferent, they would all have 
had some first-hand experience of the issues addressed in it, and most 
would have recognized the sources, assumed as well as cited, that 
underlay the text. 


The Preface 

Hooker's Use of Sources 

These sources fall into categories typical of late sixteenth-century 
theological writings: biblical, classical, patristic, and contemporary 
Protestant (both continental and English). Missing are citations of 
medieval theologians, of contemporary Roman Catholics, or of other 
English writers who supported the church as established. In the treatise 
proper Hooker often cited medieval and contemporary Roman Cath- 
olic writers. His omission of any direct citation of English prede- 
cessors, however, is characteristic, not only of the Preface, but of the 
whole work, for only when his adversaries claimed an English Refor- 
mation authority for their side did Hooker explicitly cite and treat the 
earlier text. Yet it must be assumed that Hooker was aware of writings 
that had upheld the terms of the settlement. 

The Preface echoes anti-Puritan arguments that others had already 
laid down. Later in 1593 Richard Bancroft anonymously set forth 
two books which were the fruit of the investigations of the Puritan 
network by the Ecclesiastical Commission in which he had taken a 
leading role, A Survay of the Pretended Holy Discipline and Daungerous 
Positions and Proceedings. The timing of their publication may have 

129 Both Bancroft and Matthew Sutcliffe (1550F-1629), dean of Exeter, had 
argued that the disciplinarian polity originated in sixteenth-century Geneva, not 
first-century Palestine. Hooker applied the same ironical adjective "strange" that 
Bancroft had employed in 1589 to describe the fifteen-hundred-year gap in the 
church's observance of a presbyterial discipline that Christ, according to militant 
Puritans, had commanded (Pref. 4.1; 1:21.23; 21.23-28.n and 24.19-22.n). The 
erroneous application of the Marprelate quotation may have had its origin in Hooker's 
misreading of that same sermon (1:50.4-5. n). Saravia had suggested that the authority 
of sixteenth-century reformers might be questioned in the same way that they had put 
down patristic authority: they were "but men" (1:10. 7.n). Hooker's suggestion that 
local presbyteries might take over the responsibilities of the law courts had been 
voiced by Thomas Cooper (1517?— 1594), bishop of Winchester, Dean Sutcliffe, and 
an anonymous third author (1:41. 20-26. n). Cosin and Sutcliffe had both argued, as 
Cranmer had urged Hooker, that the advanced Protestants were responsible for the 
emergence of the separatists (1:39.4— 5. r.n), and Sutcliffe had warned of dangers 
inherent in judicial authority exercised by inadequately skilled presbyteries and in 
changes of clerical deployment that would eliminate university privileges (1:39.12- 
21.n and 39.21-41. l.n). 

See n. 35, above. Since the books both bear the date 1593, they would have 
been published after 25 March, and, therefore, after the Lawes. 



been dictated, as Morice hinted, like that of the Lawes, by Whitgift's 
legislative plans (see p. 61, above). There are parallels in the interpre- 
tation of Calvin's reforms in Geneva. Either might have seen the 
manuscripts of the other before publication, or their similarities could 
derive simply from their common involvement in discussions among 
members of London establishment circles. 

Hooker's text is saturated as well with quotations or citations from 
Scripture. Eleven from the Old Testament and thirty-one from 
the New appear in the Preface, including those introduced by other 


writers. Thirteen other passages suggest further biblical allusions. 
Hooker used the more popular Geneva Bible, beloved of advanced 
Protestants, rather than the unevenly prepared Bishops' version au- 
thorized for liturgical readings. His Old Testament renderings follow 
the Geneva version, and his frequent New Testament departures from 
contemporary translations suggest that he commonly worked directly 
with the Greek. Hooker's biblical quotations established common 
ground with his adversaries and lent impeccable authority to his 
arguments. When he declared that "the force of [one's] owne discretion" 
provides the natural human means for distinguishing good from evil, 
the New Testament provided a catena of four passages confirming that 
both Paul and Jesus expected their readers and listeners to exercise 

131 They interpret in similar ways the course of Calvin's reforms in Geneva (see 
nn to 1:6.31-7.1, 7.26-8.4., 9.1-12, 10.10-13, and 10.13-23). In one instance 
Bancroft and Hooker similarly employ the same set of biblical quotations, and, in 
another, they cite the same set of Puritan passages (l:2.12-15.n and 50.5-7.n). 
Bancroft's views about the origins of separatists and the disciplinarians' threat to social 
stability match those Hooker set forth in chapters 8 and 9 (nn to 1:39.4-5 and 50.28- 
31; also nn to 1:10.7, 11.35-12.5, 12.5-11, 18.15-17, 25.13-16, and 50.31-51.7). 

132 On Hooker's use of the Bible in his Tractates and Sermons, see ISR, 5:851-909, 
this edn.; those in the Lawes are collected below, pp. 1101-1156. 

133 See references in the ISR below at 1:2.12-15, 12.27-13.1, 18.27-28, 23.1, 
23.8-9, 27.5-6, 31.4-5, 31.12, 31.32, 32.5, 32.32-33.1, 39.28, and 53.9-11. 

For example, in the lengthy quotation in Pref. 6.2 from Deut. 17:8-12 (1:30. 
11-25), except for the indicated ellipsis ("etc.") and an omitted "nether" before "to 
the right hand," Hooker follows the GB. In Pref. 3.10, his translation from 
evipyeiav nX&vr\<; as "fraud" differs from both the common sixteenth-century 
translation "strong delusion" and from the Rheims's literal "operation of errour" 
(1:18.7). In Pref. 3.14, his rendering of ucopd (or stulta) as "simple" differs from the 
"foolish things" of the contemporary translations (1:19.31). 


The Preface 

their God-given power ofjudgment (Pref. 3.1; 1:12.24—13.5). Biblical 
texts provided a range of human illustrations that linked both the 
sixteenth-century reader and the church with the stories they judged 
to be vehicles of God's special revelation. For example, in urging 
would-be reformers to accept a "definitive sentence" in any future 
disputation over church polity, Hooker drew on precedents from 
ancient Israel and the apostolic church (6.2; 1:30.10—31). 

The Old Testament texts span the whole body of the Hebrew 
Scriptures, including the Pentateuch and both prophetic and wisdom 
literature. Three quotations are from the Apocrypha, which, in spite 
of Puritan protests, "we read in our Churches . . . yeat as the scripture 
we read them not." The New Testament texts are more concen- 
trated; the epistles of St. Paul, the Pauline pastoral epistles (1 and 2 
Timothy and Titus), and those of James, Peter, John, and Jude 
account for three-quarters of the texts quoted and cited by Hooker, 
although these books represent less than a third of the New Testament 
text. Only Matthew and Luke are included in the four Gospel refer- 
ences. There are three uses of Acts; Hebrews and Revelation do not 
appear. (Not included in the figures above are the four instances in 
which New Testament texts are determined by sources cited by 
Hooker.) The practical issues of church life on which the Preface 
centered dictated the selection of material describing church life in the 
years after the death of Jesus. 

Although references to pagan authors, especially Aristotle, are 
prominent in Book I, in the Preface Hooker refers directly on only 
four occasions to classical works. His fourteen references to patris- 
tic works from five Greek and four Latin authors testify to his famil- 
iarity with the writings of the early Christian Fathers that continental 
scholars and printers had made available by the end of the sixteenth 



135 V.20.10; 2:80.11-13; the quotations are at Pref. 3.14 and 8.3; 1:20.1, 39.24 
and 26. 

Modern biblical critics distinguish these letters, as well as Hebrews, from the 
rest of the Pauline corpus, and most would assign authorship to a later writer. 

Twice to Galen, and once each to Aristotle and to the Hermetic corpus; he 
alludes to Cicero and Plutarch. See Pref. 2.3; 3.2, 9, and 14; and 4.8 (1:6.9; 13.18-23, 
16.12-16, and 20.2-3; and 26.7-9). 

He may have referred to the Greek texts of Clement of Alexandria and of the 



Nearly all the citations of continental Protestant writers in the 
Preface provide documentation to the historical narratives of Geneva 
and the Anabaptists in chapters 2 and 8. In Hooker's account of the 
development of Genevan presbyterian polity, he claimed that he had 
"collected" his narration out of the "bookes and writinges" of the 
Genevan "learned guides and Pastors" themselves (Pref. 2.7; 1:9.29— 
10.3). These boil down to only one source: Calvin's collected letters, 
a volume which included letters to and from his Genevan associates 
and Beza's biography of Calvin prefixed to the collection (1:3.31— 
32.n). All the specific information in Hooker's narration could have 
been drawn from this source. 

Hooker's treament of Calvin and the Genevan reforms in the 
Preface have been variously judged. The author(s) of A Christian Letter 
were offended that Hooker made "choyse of that worthie pillar of the 
church above all other, to traduce him and to make him a spectacle" 
(4:57.13-15). W. D.J. Cargill Thompson concluded that Hooker had 
used "smear tactics" in a "calculated piece of misrepresentation." 

historians Eusebius and Socrates, but only a Latin translation for the selection from 
John Chrysostom was available at the time. Although elsewhere in the Lawes he 
clearly used the Greek text of Gregory of Nazianzus, he seems to have used a Latin 
translation in the two quotations in the Preface; see Pref. 3.2, 4.2 and 4, and 9.3 
(1:13.29-14.7; 22.12-16, 16-19, and 19-22; 24.i; and 52.18-53.5). The Latin authors 
included six different works from the widely quoted and available texts of Tertullian 
(2) and Augustine (2), the principal work of Lactantius, and the Odavius of Minutius 
Felix, preserved as part of the work of Arnobius; see Pref. 3.2 and 15 and 4.4 (1:13.9— 
12, 20.10-25 and n. z, 24.1-2, and nn. g, h, and i). Hooker makes a third reference 
to Augustine in using the example of his book, Retractions, by title (9.2; 1:52.3-6). 
The references to Clement of Alexandria and the two historians appeared in a passage 
from Cartwright to which Hooker was responding. On Hooker's use of patristic liter- 
ature, see John K. Luoma, "Who Owns the Fathers? Hooker and Cartwright on the 
Authority of the Primitive Church," Sixteenth Century Journal, 8 (1977): 45-59; and 
William P. Haugaard, "Renaissance Patristic Scholarship and Theology in Sixteenth- 
Century England," ibid., 10 (1979): 37-60. 

139 ..-r/kg philosopher of the 'Politic Society': Richard Hooker as a Political 
Thinker," S.R.H. (1972), pp. 14-15; rpr., Studies in the Reformation (1980), pp. 131- 
191. In a rejoinder, P. D. L. Avis asserted that Hooker attempted to make "an 
impartial evaluation of an episode in recent history," and Richard Bauckham respond- 
ed that although "impartiality hardly describes" Hooker's procedure, he "probably 
believed" his explanation of the origin and influence of Calvin's discipline; see pp. 19, 


The Preface 

Clearly the principal purpose of chapter 2 was to show that the 
presbyterian polity had its origin, as Bridges, Bancroft, and Saravia had 
already argued, in Calvin's Geneva and that, as Bancroft also argued in 
his Survay (pp. 22—23), Calvin was guided more by the present cir- 
cumstances of the city than by his understanding of the apostolic 
church. Modern Calvin scholarship would agree that Calvin conceived 
his polity "in close connection with the pastoral needs of the Genevan 

Although "smear tactics" overstates the character of Hooker's 
polemic, he did ignore the possibility of a theological dialogue be- 
tween Calvin's reading of the New Testament and the needs of a 
Reformed Geneva. And Bancroft emphasized, as Hooker had not, that 
it was Calvin's followers, rather than Calvin himself, who insisted on 
conformity to the Genevan discipline (10.13-23.n). Hooker under- 
lined the advantage "of glorie" to those who, following Calvin, "con- 
sented" to the Genevan discipline, commenting that its founder in his 
writings had never omitted "the least occasion of extolling the use and 
singuler necessitie thereof" (2.8; 1:10.33-11.4). Extracting the events of 
Genevan reforms more or less accurately from his sources, Hooker 
attributed motives to continental Reformers that were, at best, shrewd 
guesses, not judgments clearly demanded by the evidence at hand. 
A modern historian cannot refute these simplified hypotheses, as they 
rest on interpretation not evidence. But the author(s) of A Christian 
Letter were quite justified in questioning the "might lead and may bees" 
of Hooker's narrative (4:60.14-15), and the motivations he attributes 
to the Genevans assuredly fulfill his polemical purpose in proving that 

27, and 31-32 from Avis, "Richard Hooker and John Calvin," pp. 19—28, and 
Bauckham, "Richard Hooker and John Calvin: a Comment," Journal of Ecclesiastical 
History, 12.1 (1981): 29-33; also, Avis, Anglicanism and the Christian Church (Minne- 
apolis: Fortress Press, 1989), pp. 53-57. 

Avis, "Hooker and Calvin," p. 27. Harro Hopfl summarizes Calvin's "rounded 
scheme of ecclesiastical polity": by 1542, he had formulated it as "the digest of his 
pastoral experience at Geneva and Strasbourg as mediated by reflection upon Scripture 
and discussion with the leading evangelical theologians and organizers of his day; had 
buttressed it by scriptural legitimation; and had rendered it more or less coherent with 
the guiding themes of his theology"; The Christian Polity of John Calvin (Cambridge: 
The University Press, 1982), p. 128. 
141 See l:10.10-13.n, below. 



what "Calvin did for establishment of his discipline, seemeth more commend- 
able then that which he taught for the countenancing of it established" (§ 7; 

While Hooker is clear in his judgment of the reforms Calvin in- 
stituted in Geneva, he is much more guarded in his judgment of Cal- 
vin as a theologian. His statements in the Preface are all touched with 
irony. Calvin was "incomparably the wisest man that ever thefrench Church 
did enjoy" but only "since the home [1536] it enjoyed him." He gained 
his divine knowledge "not by hearing or reading so much, as by teaching 
others"; "thousands were debters to him, . . . yet he to none but onely to 
God" (2.1; 1:3.13—18). Calvin was a man of "great capacitie" but he 
used it to find in Scripture evidence that "divine authority . . . [was] 
somewhat inclinable" to the discipline he had established (§ 7; 1:10.13— 
17). Calvin " deservedly procured . . . honour throughout the worlde" for two 
achievements, the "Institutions of Christian religion" and his "exposition 
of holy Scripture" but the latter was expressly designed to undergird the 
former (§ 8; 1:10.28—34). Calvin had won the same credit in the Re- 
formed churches that Peter Lombard had had in the Roman church, 
but the compliment was a mixed one, given the widespread Protestant 
repudiation of a theology based on the Sentences (§ 8; 1:11.5—8). 

What is not at all ambiguous is Hooker's repudiation of the singular 
authority with which Calvin had been endowed by many within the 
Reformed tradition. 

The perfectest divines were judged they, which were skilfullest in Calvins 
writinges. His bookes almost the very canon to judge both doctrine and 
discipline by. French Churches ... all cast according unto that mould 
.... The Church of Scotlande . . . tooke the selfe same pateme. (§ 8; 

Among some the adulation passed all measure. Responding to the 
protests of A Christian Letter to this chapter, Hooker jotted in his 
copy: "Safer to discuss all the saincts in heaven then M. Calvin" 
(4:57. 30). 142 It was against this background that Hooker summed up 

For other such spontaneous comments about Calvin, see 4:3.7—14, 55.4—6, 
55.15-12, 57.30-58.6, 58.30-59.10, 60.8-10, and 67.11-15, this edn. 


The Preface 

his judgment of Calvin as a theologian: "wise men are men, and the truth 
is truth" (§ 7; 1:10.7). Although Whitgift quoted Calvin extensively as 
an authority and predicted that were Calvin alive in England he 
"would utterly condemn" disciplinarian efforts, he too had written: "I 
use M. Caluines judgment, as I use the judgement of other learned 



To what extent did Hooker owe his own theological formation to 
Calvin? With Cole as president and Rainolds as his friend and proba- 
ble tutor at Corpus, Hooker would have read Calvin diligently. 
In the Commentary to Hooker's Tractates and Sermons in volume 5 of 
this edition, Egil Grislis argues persuasively that Calvin stands along- 
side Augustine and Thomas Aquinas as one of Hooker's primary men- 
tors. However, on those issues of sixteenth-century debate in 
which Hooker can be identified as agreeing with him, a range of 
significant writers of Reformed persuasion, both English and conti- 
nental, could equally have supplied Hooker's theological armatorium. 

In spite of the failure of Prayer Book and Articles to embrace an 
unequivocally Reformed stance, "Calvinism" was regarded by friend 
and foe alike of the Elizabethan church as constituting its ortho- 
doxy. As early as his Paul's Cross sermon, Hooker took issue with 

See The Defense of the Aunswere to the Admonition, against the Replie of T. C. 
(1574), 2.4, "The opinion of M. Calvin of things indifferent," p. 113; rpr. as The 
Works of John Whitgift, PS (1851-53), 1:251. Whitgift also wrote: "I reverence Master 
Calvin as a singular man, and worthy instrument in Christes Churche: but I am not so 
wholly addicted unto him, that I will contemne other mens judgements that in divers 
poyntes agree not fully with him, especially in the interpretation of some places of the 
Scripture, when as in my opinion they come nearer to the true meaning and sense in 
those poyntes, than he dothe"; Defense, p. 201 (PS, 1:436). See n. 152, below. 

Walton noted that Rainolds was "said to be" Hooker's tutor. An extract of a 
letter of Rainolds has been preserved in which he directs a student to "travaile 
painfully in Calvin's Institution of Christian Religion" (Keble, 1:11 and n). 

Grislis, "Introduction to the Commentary," § ii (5:630-634) and passim; see 
also 4:xli— xliii, where Booty concludes that Hooker's attitude towards Calvin in his 
later writings is consistent with that expressed in the Preface: "he both revered Calvin 
and viewed him as a danger" (4:xli). 

Although Nicholas Tyacke has demonstrated the dominant role of Calvinist 
teaching in the later sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries, his statement that 
"Calvinism was the de facto religion of the Church of England under Queen Eliza- 



what Travers judged to be the Calvinist orthodoxy of "all the church- 
es professing the gospell." Although he did not accord Calvin the 
same degree of theological authority that Whitgift did, Hooker could 
sincerely deem Calvin "wise," "of great capacity," and "deserving of 
honors," just as he might so have judged several dozen other theolo- 
gians of past or present ages. In light of the infallibility accorded 
Calvin's writings by some of Hooker's compatriots, he qualified his 
words of praise as a reminder that Calvin's theological acumen, like 
that of other able divines, had its limitations. 

Just as Hooker based his account of Geneva on one book, so he 
drew his narrative of the Anabaptists from a single source: La Racine, 
Source et Fondement des Attabaptistes . . . d e nostre Temps by Guy de Bres 
(1522—1567), a Reformed Belgian pastor who had spent four years 
exile in England under Edward VI and who was killed by troops of 
the Spanish crown. He was principal author of the Belgic Confession, 
which explicitly expressed detestation of "the error of the Anabaptists 
and other seditious people" and was one of the few Reformed confes- 
sions of faith to include "discipline" as an essential mark of the 
church. De Bres's impeccable credentials as martyr and orthodox 
Calvinist made him an ideal authority for Hooker to cite in addressing 
England's own advanced Protestants, and his citations are drawn from 
all parts of the nine-hundred page volume (1:42. 26-49. 30. d.n). 

It has been justly observed that until recent years, "anabaptist 
historiography was . . . the privilege of its enemies." Both Hooker 

beth" needs qualification in the light of the nurturing consequences of the de jure 
formularies. H. C. Porter's contention that "the story of the theology of the Elizabe- 
than Church . . . was that of a debate, and not of an unchallenged Calvinist oration" 
is still valid. See, respectively, Anti-Calvinists: The Rise of English Arminianism, c. 1590- 
1640 (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1987), p. 7, and Reformation and Reaction in Tudor 
Cambridge (1958; rpr. 1972), p. 287. And see pp. 2-7, above. 


Travers s Supplication, 5:198.16-17; see above, p. 51, n. 102, above. For a 
discussion of Hooker's views of predestination as developed in the Lawes and later, see 
4:xxxv-xliv, this edn., and Lake, Anglicans and Puritans?, pp. 182-197. 

E. M. Braekman, Guy de Bres, Premiere Partie: Sa Vie (Brussels: Librairie des 
Eclaireurs Unionistes, 1960), pp. 43-44, 61, and 159; Philip Schaff, The Creeds of 
Christendom, (New York, 1877), 3:419 and 433. 

The Mennonite Encyclopedia (Scottdale, Penn.: Mennonite Publishing House, 


The Preface 

and his disciplinarian opponent Thomas Cartwright stand in the 
tradition of English reformers from the days of Henry VIII, in compa- 
ny with Jewel, Whitgift, and Bancroft, when they employ the epithet 
as an accepted calumny (1:42.15— 49.30.n). Stressing the parallel with 
the disciplinarians, Hooker highlights the element of "discipline" as an 
Anabaptist objective, showing how the innocent beginnings culminat- 
ed in sinister outcomes. 

Throughout the Lawes Hooker cites and quotes from the writings 
of his Puritan opponents, and whether cited or not, such writings 
form the background of his arguments. The Commentary below 
sometimes suggests this silent background material, but these notes are 
by no means exhaustive. Among seven of their publications cited 
in the Preface, Cartwright's was the most significant, and throughout 
the Lawes, "T. C." was to appear more frequently than any other 
Puritan writer. The engagement between Cartwright and Whitgift, 
which the latter had begun with his Answere to the 1572 Admonition 
to the Parliament, had provided the most sustained literary debate over 
the issues raised by the Puritans. In many cases Hooker's citations of 

1955-1959), 2:751. On Anabaptist history, see George H. Williams, The Radical 
Reformation (Philadelphia: Westminster Press, 1962), and the essays in The Anabaptists 
and Thomas Miintzer, ed. J. M. Stayer and W. O. Packull (Dubuque and Toronto: 
Kendall/Hunt, 1980). 

150 Pref. 8.8, 9, and 12 (1:46.14-19, 46.26-47.4, and 49.2-30). 

151 See, for example, nn to 1:27.11-13, 39.21-41.1, and 50.5-7. In the Preface 
Hooker explicitly cited nine significant Puritan publications, including the Admonitions 
(2) and those by Cartwright (4), Dudley Fenner, Udall, Marprelate, and three 
anonymous works, A Briefe Discovery of the Untruthes and Slanders contained in Bancroft's 
1589 sermon, A Petition Directed to her Most Excellent Majestie (3), and An Humble 
Motion . . . unto . . . [the] Print Counsell (2); see nn to 1:12:5-11 and 11-12, 15.2-5.r, 
16.25-17.8, 22.8-23.fc, 23.22-24, 26.25-28.fe, 33.33-34.3, 37.19-22.M, 41.1-14.y and 
20-26.*, 41.31-42.4.6, and 50.4-5.r and 7-12.5. 

(1) Anonymous [John Field and Thomas Wilcox], An Admonition to the 
Parliament (1572), STC 10847-49; (2) Whitgift, An Answere to a certen libel intituled, An 
admonition (1572), STC 25427; (3) T. C. [Thomas Cartwright], A Replye to An 
Answere made of M. doctor Whitgifte (1573), STC 4711-12, "T.C. lib. 1" in Hooker's 
marginal notes; (4) Whitgift, The Defense of the Aunswere to the Admonition, against the 
Replie ofT. C. (1574), STC 24530; (5) Cartwright, The Second Replie of Thomas Cart- 
wright: agaynst maister Whitgiftes second Answer (1575), STC 4714, "T.C. lib. 2"; 



Cartwright can only be understood by tracing the arguments back 
through the necessary layers to the Admonition itself. Missing in 
the Preface is any explicit reference to Travers, Hooker's opponent at 
the Temple. Hooker's target in the Lawes was not one writer, but the 
movement to whom the Preface is addressed, and his topics deter- 
mined the works he engaged. 

The Character of the Polemics 

Two series of exchanges — between Jewel and Thomas Harding 
(1516—1572) and between Whitgift and Cartwright — had produced 
the most significant Elizabethan theological polemic before Hook- 
er. In both, an initial thrust called forth a response which, in 
turn, evoked a rejoinder, and the alternation of continued literary 
argumentation focused more and more on massively detailed analyses 
of details of the opponent's text and citations, section by section: the 
pattern essentially replicated that of a medieval quaestio et responsio. 
Even in the sixteenth century, the reading of these works would have 
been wearisome, and as for subsequent generations, none of the works 
were republished until nineteenth-century historical studies and 
theological debates prompted a return to source materials for a more 
accurate interpretation of Reformation history. 

In the course of the Lawes, Hooker retraced many of the same 
issues that Whitgift had debated with Cartwright. His debt to the 

(6) Cartwright, The Rest of the Second Replie of Thomas Cartwright: agaynst Master 
Whitgifts second Answer (1577), STC 4715 ("T.C. lib. 3**). (1) is rpr. in W. H. Frere 
and C. E. Douglas, eds., Puritan Manifestoes (1907; rpr. London, 1954; hereafter, 
P.M.), pp. 5—19, with accompanying "A View of Popishe Abuses" and appended 
letters (pp. 20-55). Nearly all of (1), (2), and (3) are reproduced in (4), and (4) is rpr. 
in Whitgift, Works. The editor of the latter also includes in notes some, but by no 
means all, relevant passages from (5) and (6). 

See, for example, 1:22.8— 23. b.n and 33.33— 34.3.n; and see illustrations 5—8, 
pp. 384-391, below. 

See n. 152 above on the /JdmomrtoM-Whitgift-Cartwright series and 1:171.1 A 
and 171. 2—4. n on the two Jewel-Harding debates begun by Jewel's challenge sermon 
and Apologia. 


The Preface 

archbishop is patent, but the context is sufficiently different to alter 
the perspective. The author(s) of A Christian Letter complained that, 
whereas Whitgift gave sensible answers and citations that could be 
directly applied so that the reader might "beare away what hee saith 
and what hee intendeth," in Hooker, "wee are mightely incombred; 
we walke as in a labyrinth, and are suddenlie overwhelmed as in the 
deepe sea" (4:73.6—19). Nonetheless, had Hooker not adopted a 
polemical style distinct from that of Jewel and Whitgift, it is difficult 
to imagine that an interest in the Lawes would have survived the 
sixteenth century. 

Hooker's treatise effectively deploys the sophisticated resources of 
classical rhetoric. The structure of the Preface itself (its dispositio) 
reflects Hooker's grounding in the rhetorical studies that formed an 
essential part of the university curriculum. By addressing the reformers 
in the second person with italics throughout, Hooker emphasizes its 
persuasive character. The rhetorical mode is deliberative rather than 
judicial or demonstrative; he is concerned, in terms of the categories 
of Aristotle, "to establish that a course of action will be expedient for 
the audience, or at least not harmful to it": "For the ecclesiasticall 
lawes of this land, we are led by great reason to observe them, and yee by no 
necessitie bound to impugne them" (Pref. 7.1; 1:34.16—18). 

Both ancient classical and Renaissance writers laid down infinite 
variations in the structural shape of an oration, but a traditional pattern 
following Cicero's six parts can be discerned in the first seven chapters 
of the Preface. The exordium, chapter 1, seeks to make the reader 
"well-disposed to the speaker, attentive, and receptive." As Hooker 
says, he "desireth even to embrace together with you the selfe same truth" (§ 
3, 1:3.3—4). The narration, chapter 2, in its description of the Genev- 
an origins of the discipline, is an appropriate "digression extra causam" 
which strikes at a central conviction of Hooker's opponents. The 
confirmation, chapters 3 and 4, concerned with the attributes of 

See also P. E. Forte, "Hooker as Preacher," 5:657-682, this edn. 

George A. Kennedy, Classical Rhetoric and its Christian and Secular Tradition from 
Ancient to Modem Times (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1980), p. 



persons, secures "credence, authority, and strength" for Hooker's case, 
describing how both "many of the people" and "the learneder sort" are 
drawn to the discipline (1:12.22 and 21.10). The refutation, chapters 
5 and 6, demonstrates that "the form of [the Puritans'] argument is 
invalid": "A lawe is the deed of the whole bodie politike . . . even your deed 
also" (5.2; 1:27.33—28.2). Therefore, the Puritans either at present or 
in a future disputation are bound to obey that which is established by 
"publique consent of the whole" (6.6; 1:34.4). Finally, the peroration, 
chapter 7, summarizes the intention of his "whole endevor" as con- 
tained both in the previous chapters and in the ensuing treatise (§ 1; 
1:34.20). The partition, Cicero's sixth part (a "brief, complete, and 
concise" statement of the issues in dispute), normally placed between 
the narration and refutation, is not given a separate place by Hooker, 
but contained in introductory exordium and concluding peroration 
(1.2and7.1). 157 

The addendum to the Preface in chapter 8 would fall into the 
category of additional material for the confirmation, and chapter 9 
represents Hooker's attempt to enclose this new material within an 
appropriate peroration. Rhetorical analysis simply confirms the obser- 
vation from the sense of the argument that chapter 7 was designed to 
conclude the preceding discussion. 

The effectiveness of Hooker's polemic owes much to the organiza- 
tion and sentence configuration of its carefully crafted prose style. The 
structure of the prose, as Georges Edelen has suggested, imparts a 
"syntactical distance" characterizing Hooker's writing that 

can be defined as an emphasizing of larger structural patterns in 
place of individual elements. The syntactical whole is more im- 
portant than the parts, or, more accurately, the parts are signifi- 
cant only as they contribute to the whole. 

The descriptions of Cicero's parts are taken from Kennedy, pp. 92-95. The 
application of a particular set of categories to the Preface is inevitably arbitrary. 
Rudolph Agricola, for example, preferred a four-fold division of an oration: exordi- 
um, narration, confirmation, and peroration (p. 209). Hooker's chapters would 
accordingly be divided, telescoping confirmation and refutation: 1, 2, 3 to 6, and 7. 
1S8 "Hooker's Style," S.R.H. (1972), p. 275. 


The Preface 

Edelen has demonstrated that this syntactical form was not unrelated 
to Hooker's philosophical perspective (p. 262). Hooker imposed the 
same structural priorities throughout the Lawes, on the larger shape of 
the treatise as well as on smaller prose units. This, more than any 
other single element of his style, provides a vehicle for the original 
and creative theological analysis that underlies the Lawes. 

In a discussion of conditions for a possible disputation, Hooker lays 
down a requirement that describes his own approach to theological 

because the questions in controuersie between us are many, if once we 
descend unto particularities, that for the easier and more orderly proceding 
therin, the most generall be first discussed, nor any question left off, nor 
in each question the prosecution of any one argument given over and 
another taken in hand, til the issue . . . be collected, red and acknowl- 
edged aswel on the one side as on the other to be the plain conclusion 
which they are grown unto. (Pref 5.3; 1:28.21-28) 

Within the Lawes Hooker attempted to carry on just such a debate 
with his opponents as he identified and reconstituted their arguments. 
He described the larger structure of the treatise in his outline of ''the 
matter conteyned in these eyght bookes" in chapter 7 (1:34.14). The first 
four books concerned the larger "generall" issues raised by the Puritans; 
the last four, the "specialities of that cause which lyeth in controversie" (§ 6; 
1:35.28). Employing the concept of "law" as the basic category for 
describing the creation, he began the treatise with a discussion of its 
most fundamental underpinnings: "the nature, kindes, and qualities of 
lawes in generall" (§ 2; 1:34.27). Then, rather than treating issues in the 
perspective with which his opponents had discussed them, he pro- 
ceeded to identify what he regarded as the broadest underlying princi- 
ple that distinguished their arguments, "the very maine pillar of your 
whole cause, "namely, the omnicompetence of scriptural authority (§ 3; 
1:35.4—5). Then he turned to that principle which he judged to be 
"next in degree" as a foundation of the disciplinarian position, a fixed, 
unchanging form of church government prescribed by the New 
Testament (§ 4; 1:35.10). Having considered these first three levels of 
groundwork, he then moved "from the generall grounds and foundations 
of your cause unto your generall accusations against us": unlike truly Re- 



formed churches, the English church had retained corrupted Roman 
practices and structures (§ 5; 1:35.18—19). Only then was he prepared 
to turn to the particularities which constituted the final four books of 
the treatise: religious "publique duties" the power of jurisdiction, both 
local and episcopal, and the " Ecclesiasticall Dominion" of the crown (§ 
6; 1:35.27-36.7). 

Because it was designed to link the formal treatise to the immediate 
controversy with which the reader was familiar, the Preface stands 
outside of this outline. Yet, even here, rather than accepting the terms 
of the argument already laid down, Hooker selected what were, from 
his perspective, the fundamental, most "general" axioms of the argu- 
ment. In chapters 1 to 7, Hooker explains how what he regards as an 
expedient plan of local church reform originated (chapter 2), how it 
captured the minds and hearts of so many, both unlearned and schol- 
arly (chapters 3 and 4), and how, using the proposal of a disputation, 
it might be resolved (chapters 5 and 6). Hooker frames this argument 
with a brief introductory chapter expressing his desire for peaceful 
unity with "such numbers of otherwise right well affected and most religiouslie 
enclined mindes" and with a final chapter presenting a " brief e of these my 
travailes" in the treatise to follow (1.2 and 7.7; 1:2.8-9 and 36.10). 
Chapters 8 and 9, describing why "the wisdom of governors" had led 
them to "withstand [disciplinarian] endevors" can be best understood, 
structurally, as an appendix to what went before (8.1; 1:36.18—22). 
Since these chapters were not clearly identified as an appendix, their 
addition partially obscures the structure of the Preface. 

The manner in which Hooker carried on his polemic resulted in a 
work of constructive theology that rose above the controversial issues 
that gave it birth. Here, a demonstration of the constructive character 
of the Lawes must be limited to the outline of the entire work that 
Hooker presents in chapter 7. In giving priority to " generall grounds and 
foundations" Hooker was not content to shred into still finer fragments 
the arguments of his opponents as they had raised them. He had rather 
to uncover the roots that he believed underlay the English church as 
it had been established in the Elizabethan settlement. He set out to 
demonstrate that the institution possessed foundational ligatures such 
"as no lawe of God, nor reason of man [has been] alleaged of force 
sufficient to prove they do ill, who to the uttermost of their power 


The Preface 

withstand the alteration thereof." His ability to show that the discipli- 
narian program "is only by error and misconceipt named the ordi- 
nance of Jesus Christ" depended, as he chose to argue the issue, on his 
constructive exposition of foundations of the Church of England 
(Pref. 1.2; 1:2.18-21). John S. Marshall described "Hooker as the 
Author of a Summa," but he confused the issue by attempting to 
distinguish parts of the treatise proper as "primarily polemical" from 
those that formed "a continuous and coherent . . . philosophy and 
theology." More accurately, the polemical and the constructive 
are intertwined throughout the Lawes precisely because the character 
of Hooker's polemics itself demanded constructive analysis. 

In Christian apologetic, polemic and construction have typically 
been so intertwined. St. Paul wrote to the Galatians to counter those 
who would turn them "to a different gospel" (Gal. 1:6). In the 
Summa of Thomas Aquinas polemics are built into the very structure 
of the scholastic arguments, and Calvin's Institutes contain polemic in 
every chapter. Although anti-Aristotelians and Roman Catholics 
loomed large in the minds of Aquinas and Calvin, neither designed 
the overall structure of his major works as a confutation of his oppo- 
nents. With his concern to counter a particular set of adversaries, 
Hooker did, to be sure, establish an organizational structure in the 
Lawes that responds to what were, in his judgment, the primary 
questions that they had raised. The requirements that Hooker set 
down for himself in that response, however, demanded an approach 
that was constructive to its core. 

Both the moderate tone and the temperate diction of the Lawes 
contrast with much of the language in sixteenth-century theological 
literature. One would like to think that as a person Hooker, like his 
imagined future generation, himself valued "three words uttered with 
charitie and meekenes" more than "three thousand volumes written 
with disdainefull sharpnes of wit" (Pref. 2.10; 1:12.13-15), but the 
critic must recognize that precisely by incorporating such a value into 
his writing he was also producing a more effective polemic. Although 

Hooker and the Anglican Tradition (Sewanee: Press of the University of the 
South; London: A. & C. Black, 1963), p. 66. 



such phrases are part of the ethical appeal of a skilled rhetorician and 
a recognized "language of literary convention" (n. 139, above), the 
fact remains that Hooker chose this rhetorical persona far more fre- 
quently than his theological contemporaries. 

Hooker phrased his appeals to his opponents in the context of a 
common understanding of the corporate character of human life. 
Since a "lawe is the deed of the whole bodie politike" if Puritans judge 
themselves to be its members, "then is the law even [their] deed also" 
(Pref. 5.2; 1:27.33-18.2). In the apostolic church, the decisions of the 
Council of Jerusalem provided "ground sufficient for any reasonable mans 
conscience to build the dutie of obedience upon, whatsoever his owne opinion 
were . . . before" (6.3; 1:32.2-11). So it was in the Elizabethan church: 
the body politic had made certain determinations about the way that 
the national community would practise the Christian religion. Of 
course Christians were obligated not to observe laws "which in their 
hearts they are stedfastly perswaded to be against the law of God" — a signifi- 
cant but necessary concession — but short of "reasons demonstrative" 
which Hooker judged the Puritans to lack, an individual had a moral 
obligation to accept the decisions made by the appropriate authorities 
of their "bodie politike" The disciplinarian program comprised, at best, 
"meere probabilities," insufficient to sanction disobedience to established 
law (6.6; 1:33.12-18). The Preface was aimed not only at those who 
might be persuaded to favor the whole scope of the settlement, but 
also at those who ought at least minimally to recognize that its sup- 
porters were "led by great reason to observe" the ecclesiastical laws and 
that those who opposed them were "by no necessitie bound to impugne 
them" (7.1; 1:34.17-18). 

The appeal to human reason was a principal tool in Hooker's 
polemic throughout the Lawes, and it appears in the Preface as well. 
Hooker confronted the claim of disciplinarians that "the speciall illumi- 
nation of the holy Ghost" enabled them to discern the true meaning of 
Scripture. Accepting, with them, the role of the Holy Spirit in godly 
exegesis, a teaching emphasized in Calvin's theology, Hooker turned 
the common Calvinist interpretation of that "illumination" upside 
down. He challenged the claim of "speciall illumination" by arguing 
that "there are but two waies whereby the spirit leadeth men into all truth: the 
one extraordinarie, the other common": revelation and reason. Since he 
might assume that Puritans were not claiming to be prophets, "reason 


The Preface 

[must] be the hand which the Spirite hath led them by" (Pref. 3.10; 1:17. 
10—23). It was, therefore, not "the fervent eamestnes" of their persua- 
sions, but "the soundnes of those reasons" they put forth that must serve 
as the test of their truth (1:18.4-8; see pp. 136-137 and 156-157, be- 

By its nature, then, the Preface is the most explicitly polemical 
section of the Lawes. The Church of England was struggling to deter- 
mine its identity within a fractured Christian West. An articulate and 
dedicated body of clerical and lay leaders understood that identity to 
be defined by Reformation doctrines of their own century, the sym- 
bols and structures of which were best represented by the continental 
Reformed churches and, for some, most purely by Geneva. Another 
group of leaders, less well defined and only gradually becoming as 
articulate as the first group, understood the terms of the settlement to 
have established an identity which they judged to be faithful to 
Scripture, to the central insights of Reformation doctrine, and to a 
critically examined heritage of the intervening centuries. Numbering 
himself among the latter, Hooker sought to persuade others to accept 
that identity. His understanding of the structures of authority in 
human society, especially as they were related to the role of an estab- 
lished religion, led him, in the addition of chapters 8 and 9 to the 
Preface, to encourage the efforts of church leaders and government 
officials to suppress the efforts of the disaffected to alter or defy those 
agreed-upon laws. 

Two elements in the substance of Hooker's understanding sustain 
the irenicism of his style. First, both the inclusive character of the 
church as he understood it and the concrete reality of that inclusive- 
ness in his university and other personal relationships meant that he 
always regarded opponents as members of one corporate body (indeed, 
Travers was his cousin-in-law). Second, his dedication to reason 
as a God-given gift, requiring him to sound "the depth from whence 
[truth] springeth," precluded narrow dogmatism (1.1.2; 1:56.28). 
When he judged them to be in the wrong, Hooker did not suffer 
fools gladly. But as Olivier Loyer summed it up: 

160 Hooker's cousin "Alys" married John Travers; see genealogical chart, Keble, 
facing l:cxvi. John was a younger brother of Walter; see S.J. Knox, Walter Travers: 
Paragon of Elizabethan Puritanism (1962), p. 14. 



The irenicism is real with Hooker, but it is an irenicism which 
will not be satisfied with a patched-up agreement; it is an ireni- 
cism nourished with the certainty that the adversary is holding a 
part of the truth that needs to be brought to light and put into 

, 161 

a better context. 

Irenicism and polemics, constructive theology and rhetoric: each 
pervades the Lawes. Such mixtures, Hooker might have said, comprise 
the inevitable character of fellowship among fallen human beings and 
pervade the intellectual constructs of their thoughts. 

L'Anglicanisme de Richard Hooker, 2:678-679 (trans, mine). 


Book I 

Lee W. Gibbs 

"THE FYRST BOOKE Concerning Lawes, and their severall kindes in 
general?' is the best known and most often quoted from of all Hook- 
er's works. It is different in character from all the other books of the 
Lawes, and it has no English parallel in the sixteenth century. Al- 
though couched in noncontroversial language, it lays the foundation 
for all the antidisciplinarian arguments of the later books. Introduced 
as a general exposition of the nature and kinds of law, it becomes in 
fact a treatise within a treatise, on metaphysics, theology, philosophy 
of nature, education, moral philosophy, and politics. 

In describing Book I to his disciplinarian opponents at the end of 
his original draft of the Preface (see above, pp. 38—43), Hooker sets 
out to carry the still disputed issue of the character of the English 
Reformation to a higher level of general first principles: 

Wherefore seeing that lawes and ordinances in particular, whether such as 
we observe, or such as your selves would have established; when the 
minde doth sift and examine them, it must needes have often recourse to 
a number of doubts and questions about the nature, kindes, and qualities 
of lawes in generall, whereof unlesse it be throughly enformed, there will 
appeare no certaintie to stay our perswasion upon: I have for that cause 
set downe in the first place an introduction on both sides needefull to be 
considered. Declaring therein what lawe is, how different kindes of lawes 
there are, and what force they are of according unto each kind. (Pref. 
7.2; 1:34.23-35.2) 

1 For Aristotle and Thomas Aquinas, a first principle is something from which 
something else either exists, becomes, or is known: Aristotle distinguishes between 
arguments from and those to first principles in Nicomachean Ethics, 1.4 (1095*); Aquinas 
states that "when investigating the nature of anything, one should make the same kind 
of analysis as he makes when he reduces a proposition to certain self-evident princi- 
ples" in Quaestiones disputatae de veritate, 1.1. 



Book I is thus a general introduction to a work that is (1) a practical 
polemic written to defend the constitution and practices of the 
Church of England as established by the Elizabethan settlement against 
the attacks of critics who desired further reform and (2) a definitive 
expression of the balanced reformed-catholic theology that was being 
formulated in England during the sixteenth century by such figures as 
Thomas Cranmer and John Jewel. 

Scholars have often opposed these diverse aspects of Hooker's 
thought as antithetical to one another or have emphasized one of 
them at the expense of the other. Older historians who viewed 
Hooker as a great irenical figure who rose above the ephemeral party 
conflicts of his own time neglected the polemical origin and place of 
the Lawes in the controversies of the Elizabethan church. More 
recent scholars have emphasized the frankly apologetic nature of 
Hooker's work, discounting the irenic intent Hooker claims for his 
treatise as a rhetorical tactic designed to lay claim to the high ground 
within the controversy. Recognition of the practical origin and 

2 John Booty has argued that the aim of the Elizabethan settlement, which 
Hooker was defending, was not political compromise or the mere balancing of 
opinions between two opposing parties but philosophic comprehension, that is, the 
rejection of error whatever its source and the affirmation of truth wherever it might 
be found, characterized by measure, moderation, and restraint; the question of what 
is true and beneficial in religion is to be settled according to the tests of Scripture, 
tradition, and reason, and to exclude all to the contrary; see "Hooker and Anglican- 
ism," S.R.H., pp. 207-211. 

The argument that Hooker rises above the contentions of sixteenth-century 
polemic is as old as Henry Hallam, who described Hooker as a knight of romance 
among the vulgar brawlers of the religious controversy; The Constitutional History of 
England front the Accession of Henry VII to the Death of George II, 5th edn. (London, 
1846), 1:214; and as recent as Alfred Pollard, who has written that Hooker goes 
"beyond the bickering world of wrangling about ecclesiastical power and scriptural 
interpretation into the majestic realm of eternal verity"; Richard Hooker, Writers and 
Their Work, 195 (London: Longmans, Green, 1966), p. 15. 

4 The emphasis upon understanding Hooker's Lawes in terms of its polemic against 
the Elizabethan presbyterians is found in W. D. J. Cargill Thompson, "The Philoso- 
pher of the 'Politic Society,'" S.R.H., pp. 3-76, rpr., Studies in the Reformation, ed. 
Dugmore (1980), pp. 131-91; Brian Vickers, Introduction 2, Of the Laws of Ecclesiasti- 
cal Polity: An Abridged Edition (London: Sidgwick & Jackson, 1973), pp. 41-59; Rudolf 


Book I 

intent of the Lawes, including Book I, does not minimize the distinc- 
tiveness of Hooker's moderation in the heat of debate, the uniquely 
lofty level of his discourse about the first principles underlying the 
disputed issues, the genuineness of his appeal to persuasive reason 
rather than to truth claims made on behalf of the established order, or 
the sincerity of his belief that the program of the disciplinarians really 
was truly at odds with his perception of a lawfully ordered cosmos. 5 
The fundamental problem in the interpretation of Book I is there- 
fore that of setting an apparently serene essay in philosophical theology 
within the context of the practical crisis faced by the Elizabethan 
church during the closing decades of the sixteenth century (see above, 
pp. 8-26), for it is the distinction of Book I, both within the Lawes 

Almasy, "The Purpose of Richard Hooker's Polemic," Journal of the History of Ideas, 
39 (1978): 251-270; Robert Eccleshall, "Richard Hooker and the Peculiarities of the 
English," History of Political Thought, 2 (1981): 63-117; Stanley Archer, Richard Hooker, 
Twayne's English Authors Series (Boston: Twayne, 1983), Preface; and John N. Wall, 
"Hooker's 'Faire Speeche': Rhetorical Strategies in the Lawes of Ecclesiasticall Polity," 
in Donald S. Armentrout, ed., 77m Sacred History: Anglican Reflections, for John Booty 
(Cambridge, Mass.: Cowley Publications, 1990), pp. 125-143. 

The contemporary school of social historians who oppose the "essentialist" 
valuation of abstract ideas as if they were not related to "materialist" (that is, econom- 
ic, social, and political relations), and who therefore interpret theological and philo- 
sophical doctrines as epiphenomena, understand Hooker's explication and defense of 
"the Elizabethan world view" as an example of an ideological attempt to maintain the 
status quo for privileged aristocratic classes in England, including bishops and the 
crown. Hooker is well aware of this practical socio-economic aspect of sixteenth- 
century English polity, and there are passages scattered throughout Book I and the 
Lawes that self-consciously demonstrate how intimately his description of order 
grounded in the universal rule of law is bound together with his attempt to defend a 
particular political and religious establishment. Nevertheless, these arguments in 
support of conformity do not negate the philosophical character of Hooker's social 
thought, which, with regard to human affairs, views the whole community as the 
ultimate source of political power and of any changes thereof; see Introduction to 
Book VIII, pp. 380-383, below; see also W. Speed Hill, "The Evolution of Hooker's 
Laws of Ecclesiastical Polity," S.R.H., pp. 152-53; Christopher Hill, Economic Problems 
of the Church: From Archbishop Whitgift to the Long Parliament (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 
1956; rpr. 1965), pp. ix-xii; and Christopher Morris, Political Thought in England: 
Tyndale to Hooker, University Library of Modern Knowledge (London: Oxford 
University Press, 1953; rpr. 1965), pp. 69, 74-77, 176, 195. 



and as compared to the works of contemporary controversialists, that 
Hooker's roles as detached philosophical theologian and engaged 
polemicist writing on behalf of an established church appear to have 
seamlessly coalesced. 

Book I as Polemic 

Although it is typically read in isolation from the treatise of which 
it is a part, Book I is not an abstract essay in philosophical theology 
or political theory, somehow set apart in tone and intent from the 
treatise it introduces. Here, as in the more explicitly polemical Preface, 
Hooker both attacks a powerful opposition and defends a particular 
religious settlement. Hence, even though he seeks to provide a basis 
for the negative and positive phases of this apologetic task by placing 
them in the broader normative context of a systematic examination of 
"Lawes, and their severall kindes in generally every subject he discusses — 
even at this very abstract level — has to be considered in terms of its 
polemical overtones and implications. 

One of the clearest examples of negative polemic in Book I occurs 
near the end, where Hooker makes an ad hominem argument that 
castigates the disciplinarians' individualism and trust in private judg- 
ment when they refuse to obey laws made for the common good to 
which the whole society had consented: 

It is both commonly sayd, and truely, that the best men other- 
wise are not alwayes the best in regard of societie. The reason 
wherof is for that the law of mens actions is one, if they be 
respected only as men; and another, when they are considered as 
parts of a politique body. Many men there are, then whom 
nothing is more commendable when they are singled. And yet in 
societie with others none lesse fit to answere the duties which 
are looked for at their handes. Yea, I am pers waded, that of 
them with whom in this cause we strive, there are whose betters 

It was edited as a school text by R. W. Church ("English Classics") at Oxford 
in 1866 (rpr. 1868, 1873, 1882, 1896, and 1905); Keble's 1888 text was excerpted 
and reprinted by the University of Chicago Press in 1940 and 1949. 


Book I 

amongst men would bee hardly found, if they did not live 
amongest men, but in some wildernesse by themselves. (16.6; 

Hooker's seemingly dispassionate explication of the general theory of 
the nature and kinds of law also has a polemical aim, albeit a positive 
one. It was designed to provide a philosophical foundation for the two 
basic principles on which his and other Elizabethan defenses of the 
established church rested: (1) the distinction between necessary matters 
of faith, essential to salvation and clearly expressed in Scripture, and 
contingent "external" matters of religion, "not commended or prohib- 
ited in Scripture," and therefore to be regarded as "things indifferent" 
(adiaphora); and (2) the correlative claim that each individual branch 
of the church universal has the right to determine or regulate its own 
external or "indifferent" forms of worship and government. 

These two principles were at the very heart of the debate between 
the supporters of the church as established in England and those who 
sought reform of its "discipline" or "politie" along the lines estab- 
lished in Geneva — a debate that pivoted around the issue of whether 
or not the ecclesiastical laws and orders established by governmental 
authority ought to be accepted and obeyed by all citizens. Along with 
other early apologists of the established church, Hooker contended 
that the content of these laws and orders dealt with "things indiffer- 
ent" — such matters, for example, as clerical vestments, church ceremo- 
nies, and ecclesiastical polity in general, including episcopacy and royal 
supremacy. He argued that in such "things indifferent" it was not 
only permissible but desirable to follow the combined authority of 
tradition and reason; in disobeying ecclesiastical law the disciplinarians 

Cargill Thompson argued that it was John Whitgift who first appropriated Philip 
Melanchthon's concept of "adiaphora" and related it to these two principles of church 
government (S.R.H., p. 16; Studies in the Reformation, p. 143). But Quentin Skinner 
points out that Thomas Starkey had anticipated Whitgift (and Hooker) in his An 
exhortation to the people, instructynge theym to unitie and obedience ([1536]; STC 23236); 
see The Foundations of Modem Political Thought (Cambridge: The University Press, 
1978; rpr. 1979), 2:103-105, and Introduction to Book VIII, p. 351, n. 21, below. 
For Hooker, as for Whitgift and Melanchthon, "indifference" is the indetermination 
of the means chosen to attain the end proposed. 



were undermining the whole of society without having good reason 
or cause of conscience, for it was only in external "things indifferent" 
that they were being asked to conform. 

The Elizabethan presbyterians, however, did not agree. God would 
not, they argued, remain silent or ambiguous in his Word about 
matters that are so important for the life of his church as proper 
ceremonies of divine worship or the proper form of ecclesiastical 
government. The reformers therefore challenged what they regarded 
as the arbitrariness of all the positive, human-made laws concerning 
the religious establishment by setting them over against the eternal law 
of God revealed once and for all times in Scripture. The terms of the 
debate were nicely put by J. E. Neale (the context is the vestiarian 
controversy of 1565— 1566, but they apply equally to the later debate): 

all were agreed . . . that the quarrel was over 'matters indifferent.' 
Since we have the essentials of a true Church, why be so stiff- 
necked over inessentials? asked the bishops who found themselves 
obligated to carry out the Queen's demand for uniformity. Since 
these things are 'indifferent' retorted their opponents, why force 
them upon us? 

Book I as a Work of Systematic Philosophical Theology 

While Book I functions as the general introduction to a sustained 
polemic, it also lays the foundations for a coherent philosophical 
theology. And while its logical consistency has been questioned, 

Neale, 1:179-180 (I owe this reference to Wallace Galloway). 

H. F. Kearney argued that Hooker's fundamental inconsistency is to be found 
in his failure to reconcile the dichotomy between a "rationalist" and a "voluntarist" 
conception of law ("Richard Hooker: A Reconstruction," Cambridge Journal, 5 
[1952]: 300-311); Peter Munz concluded that Hooker's argument is flawed because 
his Thomist theory of church and state in Book I is inconsistent with the Marsilian 
position taken in Book VIII (The Place of Hooker in the History of Thought); Gunnar 
Hillerdal pointed to Hooker's failure to reconcile his Aristotelian-Thomist philosophy 
of reason with his Protestant theology of grace and predestination (Reason and 
Revelation in Richard Hooker). Against the positions of Kearney and Muhz, Arthur S. 
McGrade argued the coherence of Hooker's thought in "The Coherence of Hooker's 
Polity: The Books on Power," Journal of the History of Ideas, 24 (1963): 163-182, and 


Book I 

Hooker clearly asserts his own understanding of how its diverse parts 
constitute a coherent whole: 

For as much helpe whereof as may be in this case, I have endev- 
oured throughout the bodie of this whole discourse, that every 
former part might give strength unto all that followe, and every 
later bring some light unto all before. So that if the judgements 
of men doe but holde themselves in suspence as touching these 
first more generall meditations, till in order they have perused 
the rest that ensue: what may seeme darke at the first will after- 
wardes be founde more plaine, even as the later particular deci- 
sions will appeare, I doubt not more strong, when the other have 
beene read before. 

From the beginning Hooker saw his work as a logically consistent 
whole, in which the arguments of the last four books presupposed the 
general principles and arguments laid down in the first four. 

Hooker launches his defense with a thoroughgoing re-examination 
of the nature of law, arguing that the quarrel with the disciplinarians 
over the nature of authority was ultimately rooted in an inadequate 
understanding of the general nature of law, combined with a confu- 
sion of the different orders of law. By choosing law as the master idea 
of his treatise, and by defining law in a uniquely nonauthoritarian 
fashion, Hooker fundamentally reshapes his classical and medieval 
sources and precipitates a basic shift in metaphysical principles. Because 
his predecessors had given priority to the realm of being rather than to 
the realm of becoming, law conceived of as a rule of action played a 
relatively subordinate role within their broader speculative systems. 

"The Public and the Religious in Hooker's Polity," Church History, 37 (1968): 404- 
422. Egil Grislis challenged Hillerdal in "Richard Hooker's Image of Man," Renais- 
sance Papers 1963, ed. S. K. Heninger, Jr. (The Southeastern Renaissance Conference, 
1964), pp. 73-84. 

10 1.1.2; 1:57.24-33; compare the outline in the Preface 7.2-3 (1:34.23-36.9) and 
the summaries in "What things are handled in the Bookes following" (1:54.2—22). 

First noted by McGrade, Introduction 1, An Abridged Edition, pp. 18—19; see 
also Paul E. Forte, "Richard Hooker's Theory of Law," Journal of Medieval and 
Renaissance Studies, 12 (1982): 135-141. 



The choice of law as the first principle of Hooker's Christian philoso- 
phy reflects the profoundly social nature of his thought and gives a de 
facto priority to the practical function of reason — as opposed to its 
theoretical and productive functions, simultaneously emphasizing 
the practical areas of ethics and politics. Hooker's emphasis upon 
the realm of becoming and process provides the foundation for a more 
dynamic view of the physical cosmos and for taking more seriously 
the authority of evolving historical traditions. In the realm of practical 
human action, where probable rather than necessary reasoning prevails, 
the criteria are precedence, convenience, and expediency — criteria 
taught not by pure logic but by dialectic, rhetoric, and historical 
experience. It is this practical dimension of Hooker's thought, reflect- 
ed in the selection of law as his key category, that helped to shape the 
distinctive moral divinity of the seventeenth-century Caroline divines 
and all subsequent Anglican theology. 

Hooker distances himself still further from his classical and medieval 
forerunners, and especially from all proponents of philosophical and 
theological voluntarism, with his initial definition of law as "that 
which doth assigne unto each thing the kinde, that which doth mod- 
erate the force and power, that which doth appoint the forme and 
measure of working" (1.2.1; 1:58.26-29). By defining law as a rule or 
measure guiding an action to its appropriate end rather than as a 
command coercively imposed by a sovereign, Hooker omitted from 

Aristotle distinguishes between the speculative, practical, and productive sci- 
ences in Metaphysics, 6.1 (1025 b -1026 b ). Unlike Hooker, however, Aristotle goes on 
to argue that metaphysics is superior to all other speculative sciences and that the 
speculative sciences are superior to the nonspeculative. 

Hooker's theoretical choice oflaw as the key category of his thought must not 
be divorced from the practical setting of his original controversy with Travers at the 
Temple or from his writing against Cartwright and the other disciplinarians in the 
London home of his father-in-law, John Churchman, located only a few blocks away 
from the Inns of Court; see above, Introduction to The Preface, pp. 56-58; see also 
C. M. A. McCauliff, "Law as a Principle of Reform: Reflections from Sixteenth- 
Century England," Rutgers Law Review (1988): 429-435. 

See Henry R. McAdoo, The Spirit of Anglicanism: A Survey of Anglican Theologi- 
cal Method in the Seventeenth Century (New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1965), p. 38, 
and The Structure of Caroline Moral Theology (London and New York, 1949). 


Book I 

his definition what many thinkers, including his disciplinarian oppo- 
nents, regarded as its most essential property. Well aware of his inno- 
vative usage, he speaks about his "somewhat more enlarging the 
terme" as a departure from what "the learned for the most part" mean 
by law. This departure allowed Hooker to apply the idea of law 
not only to the created order but also to the operations of God, in 
which he found a two-fold eternal law. Applying the concept of law 
to all external operations had the inevitable consequence of enhancing 
the status and observance of law throughout the rest of the cosmos, 
not excluding the human society of England in the 1590s. 

I. Date and Occasion 

Book I was published with the Preface and Books II— IV in March 
1593 as the initial installment of the Lawes, and its setting is identical 
to that of the Preface and Books II— IV. Its date and occasion, how- 
ever, continue to raise the question concerning the identity of Hook- 
er's antagonist when he first conceived of and began to write the 

While Thomas Cartwright emerged as Hooker's primary adversary 
in the Lawes, there is internal evidence that the thesis of Book I arose 
out of the controversy with Walter Travers at the Temple. The 
central issue underlying all of the individual disputes between Hooker 
and Travers was that concerning the nature of authority, which in 
turn raised the related problems of the nature of law and the role of 
human reason in discerning theological truth. When Travers objected 
that Hooker's teaching about the doctrine of predestination in the 
sermon at St. Paul's Cross (now lost but probably delivered in 1584) 
was at variance with that of Calvin and other "good writers," Travers 
claimed that Hooker answered, "his best aucthor was his owne reason." 
Travers's contention was that Hooker was presumptuous in appealing 

1.3.7 (1:63.6-14); see nn on this passage and on 1:63.6-64.3. 

Travers, Supplication, 5:198.24, this edn.; compare Hooker's Answer, 5:255.3—11: 
"I alledged ... a reson not meaninge thereby myne owne reason as nowe it is reported, 
but true sounde divyne reason, . . . theologicall reason which out of princyples in 
scripture that are playne soundly deduceth more doubtfull inferrences. ..." 



to his own judgment against an authoritative interpretation of Scrip- 
ture by leading Protestant Reformers. 

Travers made a similar critique of Hooker's Sermon of the Certaintie 
and Perpetuitie of Faith in the Elect, strenuously objecting to Hooker's 
statement that "the assurance of that we beleeve by the word, is not so 
certeyne as of that we perceyve by sense" Close examination of the 
disputed text reveals that Hooker actually agreed with Travers in 
holding that, in themselves, "the thinges which God doth promys in his 
worde are surer unto us then any thinge we touche handle or see" 
(5:236.24—26). Travers refused, however, to accept Hooker's subse- 
quent argument that, with regard to the "certaintie of evidence" 
(5:70.24), sense experience reflected upon by natural reason ("the light 
of nature") is more certain than divine truth disclosed in the Bible, 
even though that divine truth may only be apprehended by reason 
illuminated by "the light of grace" (5:70.17). Travers had to reject 
these incipient appeals to natural reason and to sense experience 
because they challenged the Calvinist and disciplinarian thesis that 
Scripture is the only rule of all ecclesiastical law. On the other side, 
Hooker's discussion here points clearly to his central line of argument 
in Book I that law can be discovered by the light of natural reason 
and that human laws can and must regulate affairs in the church; it 
also anticipates his position on the relation of Scripture and reason in 
chapter 14 (1: 126.5-13). 18 

It is in the Sermon of Pride, however, that Hooker first reflects on 
the general concept of law and the system of laws. Justifying the 
authority of law on the basis of its reasonableness rather than in terms 
of its simply being the command of a sovereign sanctioned by coer- 


cion, he speaks there of law as "that exact rule wherby humane 
actions are measured," and identifies this rule as the law of God. In 
Book I he elaborates this distinction between revealed divine law and 

Supplication, 5:200.6-7; see Hooker, Certaintie, 5:70.24—25, and Answer, 5:236. 

See W. Speed Hill, "Doctrine and Polity in Hooker's Laws," English Literary 
Renaissance, 2 (1972): 173-193. 

19 Pride, 5:309.11-23; compare Lawes, 1.2.5 (1:61.18-28). 

20 Pride, 5:312.8-9; compare Lawes, 1.2.1 (1:58.26-33). 


Book I 

the law of reason: "Under the name of the law we must comprehend 
not only that which god hath written in tables and leaves but that 
which nature hath ingraven in the hartes of men" (5:312.12—15). 

Most importantly of all, in the context of a general discussion of 
justice as "a vertue wherby we have our own in such sort as law 
prescribeth," Hooker makes the crucial distinction between natural 
immutable law on the one hand and human variable law on the other 
(5:334.31—335.6), anticipating the argument that the root of the 
disciplinarian error is the false idea that all laws made by humans are 
positive and all those given by God are immutable. And when he 
observes that even some laws revealed in Scripture are alterable ("All 
Canons apostolicall touching the forme of church government though 
receyved from god him selfe yeat positive lawes and therfore alter- 
able"; 5:335.25—27) while some human laws are unchangeable, he 
identifies the key issue at stake in the struggle with Travers and the 


disciplinarians over the nature of authority in "ecclesiastical politic" 

ii. Sources 

It may come as a surprise to a more secular age to learn that Hook- 
er's primary source for Book I — philosophic as it is — is the Holy 
Bible. There are fifty references to the Old Testament (quoted from 
the Geneva Bible), ninety-seven to the New (usually translated by 
Hooker himself from the Greek or the Vulgate), and six to the apoc- 
ryphal Wisdom of Solomon. It is hard to overemphasize how different 
an impression one has of the character of Book I when one has in 
hand all the biblical references and reads them in context. Without an 
active awareness of them, one can understand neither Hooker's 
biblical hermeneutics nor his foundation of the overall structure and 
argument of Book I upon the authority of the Scriptures as the Word 
of God/ 


Cargill Thompson identified the application of the concept of mutable human 
law to the sphere of ecclesiastical law as one of the two most significant aspects of 
Hooker's theory of human law, the other being his insistence that all human laws 
derive their ultimate validity from consent; S.R.H., p. 33; Studies in the Reformation, 
p. 159. 

See, for example, the dense series of citations on angelology in chap. 4, where 



After the Bible, and in spite of the fact that there are only three 
direct references and two probable paraphrases, the second most 
important source for Book I is Aquinas's Summa theologies, especially 
that part known as "The Treatise on Law" (la2ae.90-97). 23 Hooker 
adopts as his own the Thomistic dictum that gratia non tollit naturam, 
sed perfecit, a doctrine which has far-reaching polemical implications 
with respect to the more pessimistic stance of his disciplinarian oppo- 
nents on the relation of reason and faith, on the disabilities of fallen 
human nature, and on the necessity of the political state and its laws. 
Moreover, the basic outline of Book I is derived from Aquinas's 
discussion of the various kinds of law (eternal, natural, human, and 
divine), as is the basic conception of law as rational in its essence 
(aliquid rationis) and his emphasis upon the directive power of law 
{potestas directiva) over its coercive power {potestas coactiva). 

Nevertheless, Hooker did not hesitate to modify Aquinas's scheme 
of law to suit his own philosophical-theological needs. Hence, al- 
though Aquinas distinguishes between "eternal law" and "divine 
law," there is nothing in his writings that corresponds to Hooker's 
distinction between the "First" and "Second Law Eternal." Hooker is 
also unique in adding a special category of "celestial law" for angels 
and in distinguishing between "the law of reason" and "the law of 
[physical] nature" in the created world. 

Behind the authority of Aquinas stands that of "the Arch-Philoso- 
pher," Aristotle (1.10.4; 1:99.28). 24 However, Hooker does not hesi- 

Hooker documents from Scripture their praise of God, their obedience to the divine 
will, and their submissive role as messengers and servants to humankind — a series that 
closes with references to the insubordinate angels who became demons cast into hell 
with their prince, the Devil. See also nn at 1:70.20-22, 70.22-71.15, and 71.10-11, 
and the ISR, this volume and volume 5. 

Hooker also makes one reference each to Aquinas's Compendium theologiae and 
to his commentary on Aristotle's Metaphysics. The only other medieval scholastic 
represented in Book I is Duns Scotus, "the wittiest of the Schoole divines" (1.11.5; 
1:117.19), whose commentary on Peter Lombard's Sentences Hooker cites twice. 

There are twenty-two references in all to works by Aristotle, including six to 
the Nicomachean Ethics, five to the Politics, three each to the Rhetoric and Metaphysics, 
two to On the Soul, and single citations to the Physics, On the Heavens, and the 


Book I 

tate to modify his source material to suit his own purposes. For 
example, the important distinction in Book I between "the law of 
reason" and "human positive law" is ultimately grounded in Aristot- 
le's distinction in the Nicomachean Ethics between the two kinds of 
political justice, natural and conventional, but while Hooker's elabora- 
tion of "the law of reason" plays a prominent role in Book I, Aristotle 
only briefly discusses "natural justice" on an obscure page of the 
Ethics. Or again, Hooker immediately modifies his appropriation of 
Aristotle's teaching about the natural and rational origin of the state as 
set forth in the Politics by setting it side by side with a theory of the 
voluntary origin of socio-political institutions in the consent of the 
governed and the Christian-Augustinian doctrine that the state is a 
divinely appointed punishment and remedy for human sin. 

Although Hooker specifically denies the Platonic doctrine of innate 
ideas (1.6.1; 1:74.17-28), the references in Book I to the works of 
Plato and the neoplatonists further show that he was by no means 
exclusive in his appropriation of the Aristotelian-Thomistic synthe- 
sis. There are references to four of Plato's dialogues, although one 
or more of these was probably derived from the Eclogues of Stobaeus. 
There is one reference to the De dogmatibus Platonis of "Alcinous" 
(apparently a misnomer for Albinus). He refers six times to the so- 
called Hermetic literature, The Poemander or The Shepherd, attributed 
by Hooker and his contemporaries to the legendary Egyptian sage 
Hermes Trismegistus as the earliest teacher of universal human wis- 

spurious Rhetoric to Alexander. There are two further references to the commentary on 
Aristotle's Metaphysics written by his disciple and successor, Theophrastus. 

Olivier Loyer noted that this fusion of Platonic with Aristotelian sources 
illustrates Hooker's characteristic holding of two opposed traditions in suspension; see 
L'Anglicanisme de Richard Hooker, 2:684-685, and 741, n. 46. Paul Oskar Kristeller has 
established the continuing importance of the Aristotelian tradition alongside the revival 
of Platonism during the Renaissance, together with the thoroughgoing eclecticism in 
method and content of both these traditions, in Renaissance Thought: The Classic, 
Scholastic, and Humanistic Strains (New York: Harper & Row, 1961), esp. pp. 24-69. 
See also Charles B. Schmitt, Aristotle and the Renaissance (Cambridge: Harvard Univer- 
sity Press, 1983), and James McConica, "Humanism and Aristode in Tudor Oxford," 
English Historical Review, 94 (1979): 291-317. 



dom, and to the Carmina Orphei or Orphic Hymns — all works written by 
neoplatonist philosophers during the second and third centuries. There 
is also an important footnote (l:84.m) where Hooker cites, in the 
midst of several other authorities, De religione Christiana by the Floren- 
tine Platonist, Marsilio Ficino, and the Compendium by the German 
Cardinal Nicolas of Cusa, whose mystical theology was heavily influ- 
enced by neoplatonism (see 1:84.2—3, m, and n). 

In addition to works by Aristotle and Plato and their disciples, 
Hooker's other classical sources in Book I include Homer's Iliad, 
Sophocles's Antigone, Hesiod's Theogony, Hippocrates's Regimen, 
Strabo's De situ orbis, Stobaeus's Eclogues, Virgil's Aeneid, and Sallust's 
Bellum Catilinae. The quotations from Homer and Virgil may be 
directly recalled from his own early reading, but the quotation from 
Sophocles is from Aristotle's Rhetoric (see 1:90.9—11, e, and n), the 
reference to the ancient Greek sage and dictator, Pittacus of Mitylene 
in Lesbos, is probably also at second hand (l:66.7.n), and he acknowl- 
edges that the reference to the celebrated Athenian sculptor Phidias is 
borrowed from Aristotle's Politics (1:103.33-104.4, h, and n). What- 
ever the origin of Hooker's acquaintance with these particular writers, 
Basil Willey has demonstrated how skilfully Hooker employs them to 
shore up the foundation for his argument against the disciplinarians. 

Hooker's classical sources also include four references to Cicero's De 
legibus, De officiis, and Libri . . . Tusculanarum quaestionum ad M. Brutum. 
Not only does Cicero the orator lie behind Hooker the literary stylist, 
but he is an essential part of the specific philosophical content of Book 
I as well. In concert with other Renaissance humanists who idealized 
Cicero, Hooker attempted to imitate his synthesis of the oratorical art 
of persuasion with the wisdom of the philosophers. It was Cicero 

See "Humanism and Hooker" in The English Moralists (New York: W. W. 
Norton; London: Chatto & Windus, 1964), pp. 100-123. Robert K. Faulkner showed 
how Hooker shapes his pagan sources to create more agreement than actually existed; 
see Richard Hooker and the Politics of a Christian England (Berkeley and Los Angeles: 
University of California Press, 1981), pp. 26-27. 

On the origins and significance of this synthesis, see Jerrold E. Seigel, Rhetoric 
and Philosophy in Renaissance Humanism: The Union of Eloquence and Wisdom, Petrarch to 
Valla (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1968); see also McGrade, An Abridged 


Book I 

more than any other who gave to the Stoic doctrine of "natural law" 
the formulation in which it was to become universally known through- 
out Western Europe and from whom it passed to Roman lawyers and 
to the church Fathers. 

Hooker cites the works of two ancient Jewish scholars, Josephus's 
Jewish Antiquities and Philo's Life of Moses. Among the works of the 
church Fathers, those by Augustine clearly predominate, although 
there are single references to Tertullian, Ambrose, Lactantius, Theo- 
doret, Clement of Alexandria, and Boethius. He does not acknowl- 
edge the derivation of the well-known passage, "Now if nature should 
intermit her course . . . ," from Adversus Gentes by Arnobius of Sicca 
(3.2; l:65.20-66.6.n). 

Hooker also alludes to an ancient legend about Dionysius the Areo- 
pagite, the Greek who was supposedly converted and then appointed 
first bishop of Athens by the Apostle Paul and who was said while in 
Egypt to have observed and commented upon an eclipse of the sun at 
the time of the crucifixion. A number of mystical works were later 
pseudonymously attributed to him, including Hie Celestial Hierarchy, a 
work which sets forth a world view presupposed by Hooker not only in 
his elaboration of the nature and kinds of law in Book I but throughout 
the remaining parts of the Lawes as well. 

That the Lawes is a product of the Temple law schools, where 
Hooker was master of the Temple church from 1585 to 1591, is 
confirmed by the number and variety of his legal sources. He has 
drawn upon the political philosophy of Plato, Aristotle, Augustine, and 
Aquinas, upon the digests of Roman law, the canons of the church, 
the political theories derived from the growth of nationalism and 
Protestantism, and the whole history of English law from the Norman 
Conquest and Magna Carta to the statutes of the realm and the Acts 
of Supremacy and Uniformity. 

In Book I there are five references to the Roman law {Corpus juris 
civilis). Such familiarity is especially significant because the concept of 
"natural right" (Jus naturale) is invoked in the introduction to justify 

Edition, pp. 37—38, Forte, "Hooker as Preacher," 5:657—682, this edn., and Archer, 
Richard Hooker, p. 124. 



the reasonableness and universal value of the Roman system as the law 
of an international civilization (Jus gentium). Although Hooker has only 
a single reference to canon law, from the beginning of Gratian's De- 
cretum, and that probably derived from Aquinas, who twice quotes the 
text in his discussion of law in the Summa theologies, the reference 
makes the crucial identification of "the law of reason or nature" with 
the law of the prophets of ancient Israel and the Gospel itself. 
Hooker makes but one indirect reference to an Elizabethan statute — 
one regulating trade and diet. He also cites a digest of criminal law 
published by the sixteenth-century judge William Staunford under the 
title Les Plees del Coron (1557), as well as the anti-Roman Disputations 
against Bellarmine on Holy Scripture (1588) by the Calvinist professor of 
theology at Cambridge, William Whitaker. Among other works 
Hooker does not acknowledge that almost certainly influenced the 
structure and content of Book I, special mention must be made of 
Doctor and Student, or Dialogues between a Doctor of Divinity and a Student 
in the Laws of England by the barrister of the Inner Temple, Christo- 
pher Saint German (see n. 34, below); the 1574 homily, "An Exhor- 
tacion concernyng Good Ordre and Obedience to Rulers and Magis- 
trates" (see n. 32, below); and the Answere to ... an Admonition (1572) 
and the Defense of the Aunswere (1574) by John Whitgift. 

Hi. The Argument 

Having determined that the basic difference between the supporters 
of the established church and the disciplinarians was ultimately 
grounded more in a different understanding of the nature and authori- 
ty of law than in a disagreement over specific regulations having to do 
with the particular rites, customs, and orders of the Church of Eng- 
land, Hooker states in the opening chapter the rationale for writing 
the first book, namely, that the resolution of controversy can be 
attained only by going to the foundation or root of the subject matter 
under dispute (§ 2; 1:57.6-20). Hooker thus attempts in subsequent 
chapters to identify broader and more sufficient principles which, if 

28 Hooker also cites a work on the Apostolic Councils written by the twelfth- 
century Byzantine canonist and historian, Johannes Zonoras. 


Book I 

mutually agreed upon, could provide a surer foundation for peaceful 
coexistence. The search for such common first principles leads him 
into a discussion not only of the general nature and different kinds of 
law but also of the potentialities of human nature (even after the fall 
into sin) and of the origins and nature of political societies. Behind the 
exposition of all these interrelated themes there can be discerned a 
conjunctive view of the relation between grace and nature, between 
reason and will, and between Scripture and reason that is closer to the 
position of Aquinas than to the more disjunctive perspective of his 
Calvinist antagonists. 

Eternal Law 

Beginning with the teleological premise derived from Aristotle and 
Aquinas that everything that exists has "some foreconceaved ende for 
which it worketh" (2.1; 1:58.24), Hooker sets forth his general defini- 
tion of law as "that which doth assigne unto each thing the kinde, that 
which doth moderate the force and power, that which doth appoint 
the forme and measure of working" (1:58.26-29). This definition 
emphasizes the rationality of law, for its essence is conceived of not so 
much as a series of promulgations as an inherently appropriate pattern 
of behavior whereby all things are directed "in the means whereby 
they tend to their own perfection." It is therefore not surprising to 
find Hooker formally and explicitly rejecting the voluntarist and 
nominalist emphasis on God's will at the expense of God's reason: 
"They erre therefore who thinke that of the will of God to do this or 
that, there is no reason besides his will" (2.5; 1:61.18-19). For Hook- 
er, as for Aquinas, law is grounded on reason (aliquid rationis); the 
divine will always acts following the divine reason, and all law has its 
origin in an ultimate law sustained by the divine will because it is 

Hooker's initial broad definition of the general nature of law is 
distinctive in that it does not presuppose the traditional idea of a 
superior imposing his will upon inferiors and the coercive sanctioning 

But see Egil Grislis, Introduction to the Commentary, Tractates and Sermons, 
5:630-634, this edn. 



of the imposition of that will by reward and punishment (see n. 11, 
above). Its most important consequence is that it enables him to apply 
the notion of law not only to the external activity but also to the 
being of God, whose perfect nature is conceived of as "a kinde of 
lawe to his working." That God himself is a rational being who 
voluntarily chooses to observe the law of his own inner nature was 
intended to imply that the perceived inclination of the disciplinarians 
toward civil disobedience and finally rebellion is not only against a 
legitimately established social order but against the metaphysical order 
as well. 

The initial nonauthoritarian definition of law is important for the 
distinction Hooker makes between the first and the second eternal 
laws, for it is broad enough to apply to his conception of the first 

The distinction is not found in traditional Augustinian or Thomist teaching; 
Hooker introduces it primarily to show that contingent natural events and human sin 
when they occur are somehow ordered within the first eternal law even though they 
are not conformable to the second (3.1; 63.26-64.3 and s). The distinction may reflect 
that of the scholastics between God's absolute power (potentia absoluta) and his 
ordained power {potentia ordinata); see McGrade, An Abridged Edition, p. 17, and Loyer, 
2:675-676. That distinction had its origin in the late eleventh century and was the 
common property of the schools from the twelfth century on, included in the works 
of Albert the Great and of Aquinas; it was used to make the point that the present 
created order that God has established was not necessarily determined but freely 
chosen by the divine will. From the late thirteenth century onwards, beginning with 
Duns Scotus, who elevated to the status of a metaphysical principle the Augustinian 
emphasis on the primacy of the divine will over the divine intellect, and continuing 
through William of Ockham and Gabriel Biel to Luther and Calvin, the voluntarist 
and nominalist tradition used this distinction to stress the omnipotence and sovereignty 
of God and the conception of law as imposed upon the world by the divine will; see 
Heiko A. Oberman, The Harvest of Medieval Theology (Cambridge: Harvard University 
Press, 1963), pp. 30-56, 90-119. 

One interpretation of the scholastic distinction between God's potentia absoluta and 
his potentia ordinata holds that all that happens in the created order (including miracles) 
falls under God's potentia ordinata; in this framework, Hooker's first and second eternal 
laws belong to this order. Another interpretation of this distinction, however, argues 
that God's ordained power determines what normally does or should occur in creation, 
while occurrences outside the natural order are ascribed to God's absolute power, see 
William J. Courtenay, "Nominalism and Late Medieval Religion," The Pursuit of 
Holiness in Late Medieval and Renaissance Religion, ed. Charles Trinkaus with Heiko 
Oberman (Leiden: Brill, 1974), pp. 37—43. Hooker appears to have this latter interpre- 


Book I 

eternal law as that which guides all the external operations by which 
God has voluntarily chosen to govern the world. Hooker assumes 
these rationally grounded operations freely affirmed by the divine will 
under his final definition of eternal law as "that order which God before 
all ages hath set down with himselfe, for himselfe to do all things by" (2.6; 
1:63.2—3). However, Hooker immediately reintroduces the notions of 
superior authority into his conception of law when he discusses the 
more traditional understanding of the (second) "law eternal" as that 
order which God has determined to be most "expedient to be kept by 
all his creatures, according to the severall condition wherwith he hath 
indued them" (3.1; 1:63.9—10). It is this aspect of the second eternal 
law that pertains to the sphere of human political activity and, more 
specifically, to the legislative power of the whole community over the 
individuals who constitute its members, where Hooker later emphasiz- 
es the exercise of constraining force by legitimate authority as an 
essential property that distinguishes law from "counsel" or "monition" 
(10.7-8; compare VIII.6.11). 

Hooker concludes his discussion of eternal law by dividing the 
second eternal law, which is itself ordered by the first, into subcate- 
gories that set forth the basic outline of the remaining chapters of 
Book I, namely: the law of nature, which orders nonintellectual and 
nonvoluntary natural agents (the remainder of chap. 3); celestial law, 
which orders the angels (chap. 4); the law of reason, which orders 
human beings in this world as reasonable and morally responsible 
creatures (chaps. 5—9); human law, which is derived from the law of 
reason and expediency (chap. 10); and divine law, which also orders 
human beings in this world but which is known by God's special 
revelation in the Scriptures (chaps. 11-15). 

tation in mind when he describes the traditional idea of eternal law ("this second law 
etemall") as "that which . . . [God] hath set downe as expedient to be kept by all his 
creatures" (3.1; 63.8-9), but finds a more basic law ("the first etemall lawe") to which 
"even those things which to this [second] etemall law are not conformable, are 
notwithstanding in some sort ordered" (63.27-29). This more basic law (Hooker's first 
eternal law) is that in accordance with which "God doth worke," while "the lawe 
which God hath imposed upon his creatures" (the traditional idea of eternal law) 
becomes for Hooker a second eternal law. 



The Law of (Physical) Nature and Celestial Law 

Hooker further departs from Aquinas by introducing notions of 
"the law of nature" and "the celestial law" as distinct from "the law 
of reason." For Aquinas, "natural law" is the participation of intellec- 
tual creatures (angels and human beings) in God's eternal law; other 
creatures can be said to keep law only by analogy (per similitudinem). 
But in chapter 3, Hooker defines "the law of nature" or "natures law" 
as the keeping of the second eternal law by "naturall agents, which 
keepe the law of their kind unwittingly" (1:64.6-7). Although this 
usage is peculiar and restricted to Book I, it is among the earliest 
modern uses of the concept of "the law of nature" to refer to the 
regularity of the physical universe — a usage which contributed to the 
emergence of a more dynamic view of the cosmos and predisposed 
subsequent Anglican theologians to assimilate the work of natural 

Hooker's main point in the section on "natures law" is that all 
created things in the cosmos, including nonintellectual and nonvolun- 
tary entities, are ordered in their behavior by a rational law that has 
been implanted as a directive throughout the universe. He acknowl- 
edges that there are in nature what appear to be "defects" which even 
the heathen have often observed; but their true cause in the divine 
malediction of nature because of human sin, revealed by God in 
Scripture to the church as an article of saving truth, eluded "their 
meerely naturall capacitie and understanding" (3.3; 1:66.15—22). 

In an especially important passage where he is elucidating "the law 
of [physical] nature," Hooker distinguishes his teleological view based 
upon Aristotelian and Thomistic premises from any Platonic theory 
that finds the order in nature rooted in the "imitation of" or "partici- 
pation in" the eternal ideas (exemplary draughts) by individual things 
(3.4; 1:66.31—67.9). And in an often quoted passage, which paraphrases 
a section from Arnobius's Aduersus gentes, Hooker speculates upon the 
chaos that would ensue "if nature should- intermit her course, and 
leave altogether, though it were but for a while, the observation of her 
own lawes" (3.2; 1:65.20-66.6). The polemical implications of this 

31 S.T., la2ae.91.2. 


Book I 

discussion of nature's law are revealed when Hooker distinguishes 
between the law of "naturall agents considered in themselves . . . 
which directeth them in the meanes whereby they tende to their 
owne perfection," and "another law . . . which toucheth them as they 
are sociable partes united into one bodie, a lawe which bindeth them 
each to serve unto others good, and all to preferre the good of the 
whole before whatsoever their owne particular" (3.5; 1:69.6—14). 
Hooker again departs from his medieval sources in specifying a distinct 
celestial law, applicable exclusively to angels, that orders the nine 
angelic choirs. He does so, not simply because it is an essential part of 
his hierarchical view of the world in terms of "the great chain of be- 
ing," but because the conception of the society of angels as a series 
of voluntarily ordered, interlocking hierarchies justifies the obedience 
of inferiors to superiors on many different levels, including (by analo- 
gy) human society in general and the church in particular. Further- 
more, and again by analogy, those men who oppose the laws of 
society are in danger of aligning themselves with the most dramatic 
example of disobedience in the universe, namely, those "wicked 
spirits" who, having fallen through pride from the love of God, have 
since labored by all possible means "to effect an universall rebellion 
against the lawes, and, as farre as in them lyeth, utter destruction of 
the workes of God" (4.3; 1:72.4—23). Consideration of the lawful 
operations of the angels in chapter 4 makes the same point as the 

Compare the language and content of the argument set forth in "An Exhorta- 
cion concernyng Good Ordre and Obedience to Rulers and Magistrates," the 1547 
Homily appointed to be read in the churches, in Ronald B. Bond, ed., "Certain Sermons 
or Homilies" (1547) and "A Homily against Disobedience and Wilful Rebellion" (1570) 
(Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1987), pp. 161-170. Christopher Morris 
commented on this homily in Political Thought in England: Tyndale to Hooker, pp. 73-75. 

See Arthur O. Lovejoy, The Great Chain of Being: A Study in the History of an 
Idea (1936; rpr. New York: Harper & Brothers, 1960); E. M. W. Tillyard, The 
Elizabethan World Picture (1943; 2nd ed., London: Chatto & Windus, 1960); and 
George C. Herndl, The High Design: English Renaissance Tragedy and the Natural Law 
(Lexington: University Press of Kentucky, 1970), pp. 1-2, 22—28. For a discussion of 
the difference between views of order held by supporters of the establishment and the 
Puritans, see David Little, Religion, Order and Law: A Study in Pre-Revolutionary England 
(New York: Harper Torchbooks, 1969; Oxford: Basil Blackwell, 1970), pp. 149-153. 



analysis of the ordered behavior of natural agents in chapter 3; both 
constitute parts of a hierarchical world view which illuminates by 
analogy the intrinsic goodness of reasonably regulated life and the 
intrinsic evil of rebellious disobedience. 

The Law of Reason 

In chapter 5, Hooker finally conies to the law whereby human 
beings obey God. The "natural law" of Aquinas, conceived as the 
participation of rational and voluntary creatures (angels and humans), 
becomes "the law of reason" in Hooker. His first use of the concept 
of a law of nature in chapter 1 is in contrast to eternal law on the one 
side and divine law, revealed in Scripture, on the other; it designates 
the law that rules the natural order of things (1:58.16). At the begin- 
ning of chapter 3 (1:63.17-18, 64.3—12), he limits the concept to the 
law which governs natural agents in the physical universe. In chapters 
5 through 9, he clearly distinguishes this more restricted usage of 
"natural law" from the "law of reason" which pertains specifically to 
human beings. However, in passages scattered throughout the Lawes 

The most likely origin of Hooker's distinction between "the law of nature" 
regulating the behavior of natural agents and "the law of reason" directing human 
beings is the English common law tradition and, more specifically, Christopher St. 
German's Doctor and Student (first published in Latin in 1523 and in English in 
1530/1531; for the sixteenth-century bibliographical history of this frequendy 
reprinted work, see revised STC, 2:297), ed. T. F. T. Plucknett and J. L. Barton 
(London: Selden Society, 1974), Dialogue I, chaps. 1-15, pp. 8-95. Exemplifying the 
attempt of English common lawyers to appropriate the medieval concepts of nature 
and reason embodied in the canon law tradition into the theoretical framework of the 
customary law already long in existence, St. German in this treatise points out that the 
words "reason" and "reasonable" denote for common lawyers the ideas which the 
civilian or canonist puts under "the law of nature." St. German begins his appropria- 
tion of "reason" into common law by setting forth an essentially medieval scheme of 
fourfold law: law eternal, divine, rational, and human. Turning to human laws, the 
student states that in England law is grounded on six principles: the law of reason, the 
law of God, custom, maxims, local customs, and statutes. On the relation of St. 
German and common law to the law of reason in Hooker, see George W. Keaton, 
The Norman Conquest and the Common Law (London: Ernest Benn, 1966), pp. 215— 
218, and Lawrence Manley, Convention: 1500-1750 (Cambridge: Harvard University 
Press, 1980), pp. 100-101. 


Book I 

and including Book I itself, Hooker reverts to the traditional Thomis- 
tic usage of "natural law" to designate "the law of reason." The 
discussion of the law of reason here is intended to provide a philo- 
sophical basis for a universal law that can be known by human reason 
apart from its being exclusively revealed in the Scriptures as a part of 
the divine law, and at least partially observed through the exercise of 
a free will damaged but not incapacitated by the human fall into sin. 
Nevertheless, Hooker's identification of the law of reason as the 
cornerstone of his defense of the established church should not imply 
that his opponents totally abolished reason from the realm of religion, 
that there was no place in their view of the universe for law and 
order, that they were against law and order in church and state, or that 
there was no place for any concept of natural or right reason in their 
ethical or political theories. What was really involved in the contro- 
versy was the difference between two natural law traditions. Hooker 
stands predominantly within the medieval rationalist and realist tradi- 
tion represented by Aquinas, while the magisterial Protestant Reform- 
ers and their disciplinarian progeny stand squarely in the camp of the 
medieval voluntarists and nominalists. 

35 See, for example, 1.10.5; 100.17, and 12.1 and 2; 119.4 and 120.21. 
J. W. Allen and Cargill Thompson each observed that a theory of natural law 
was held just as strongly, if not always as consistently, by Protestants as by Roman 
Catholics in the sixteenth century; Allen, A History of Political Thought in the Sixteenth 
Century (1928; rpr. London: Methuen, 1960), p. 188, and Cargill Thompson, 
"Philosopher of the 'Politic Society,' " S.R.H., pp. 29—31; Studies in the Reformation, 
pp. 155—157. Both are misleading, however, when they argue that there is no substan- 
tial difference between Hooker's conception of natural law and that held by all the 
leading Reformers. It is not just a matter of their emphasizing more than Hooker the 
obscuring of the knowledge of natural law principles as a result of human sin, nor is 
it simply a matter of Hooker's demonstrating a greater respect for the power of 
human reason than they and their successors did. The major difference is that Hooker 
stands within a school of natural law that regards the essence of law as something 
rational (aliquid rationis) while the Reformers and disciplinarians stand within that of 
the voluntarist-nominalist school that regards the essence of law as a command 
sanctioned by reward and punishment. On the significance of the medieval debate 
between rationalists and voluntarists over the status of universal concepts for the 
interpretation of natural law, see Otto von Gierke, Political Theories of the Middle Ages, 
trans. Frederic William Maitland (1900; rpr. Boston: Beacon Press, 1958), pp. 172- 
174; H. A. Rommen, The Natural Law, trans. T. R. Hanley (London, 1947), pp. 62 



Hooker's intellectualist predisposition is apparent in his exposition 
of how the law of reason conies to be known and observed. In his 
conception the law of reason judges the goodness of human action: 
"For the lawes of well doing are the dictates of right reason" (7.4; 
1:79.11-12). Beginning in chapter 5 with the Aristotelian and 
Thomistic principle that all things have an appetite toward perfection 
that manifests itself as the striving to fully actualize their potentiality, 

ff.; and A. P. D'Entreves, Natural Law: An Historical Survey (1951; rpr. New York: 
Harper & Row, 1965), pp. 68-70. 

On the voluntarist interpretation of natural law, see Georges de Lagarde, Reserches 
sur I'esprit politique de la Riforme pouai, 1926), pp. 147-187; W. Komel, "Von 
Ockham zu Gabriel Biel; Zur Naturrechtslehre des 14. und 15. Jahrhunderts," Fran- 
ziskanische Studien, 37 (1955): 218-259; and Francis Oakley, "Christian Theology and 
the Newtonian Science: The Rise of the Concept of the Laws of Nature," Church 
History, 30 (1961): 433—457, "Medieval Theories of Natural Law: William of Ockham 
and the Significance of the Voluntarist Tradition," Natural Law Forum, 6 (1961): 65- 
83, and "Law Natural and Divine," chap. 6, The Political Thought of Pierre d'Ailly: The 
Voluntarist Tradition (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1964), pp. 163-197. 

Calvin's attitude toward natural law, like that of Luther, has been variously 
interpreted. August Lang argued that "in distinction from Melanchthon, Luther 
attributed to it only a subordinate importance, Calvin almost no importance at all"; 
see "The Reformation and Natural Law," in Calvin and the Reformation, ed. William 
Park Armstrong (New York, 1909), pp. 68-69, 72; see also F. J. Shirley, Richard 
Hooker and Contemporary Political Ideas (London, 1949), p. 75, and Munz, The Place of 
Hooker in the History of Thought, pp. 140-145. For a more positive interpretation of 
natural law in Calvin's social and political thought, see John T. McNeill, "Natural 
Law in the Teaching of the Reformers," The Journal of Religion, 26 (1946): 168-182, 
Giinter Gloede, Theologia Naturalis bei Calvin (Stuttgart, 1935), pp. 178 ff., Josef 
Bohatec, Calvins Lehre von Staat und Kirche (Breslau, 1937), pp. 20-35, and Emil 
Brunner, Justice and the Social Order (London, 1945), p. 233. 

Cargill Thompson summarized the four main characteristics of the law of 
reason: "first, it is divine, since God is its author; secondly, it is universal, for it is 
binding on all men as they are rational beings and not simply on Christians; thirdly, 
it is ascertainable by the power of reason, 'for the Laws of well-doing are the dictates 
of right Reason'; and fourthly, it is the basis of all human or positive laws, which are 
deductions or extrapolations from the law of reason"; S.R.H., p. 27; Studies in the 
Reformation, p. 153. See also Robert Hoopes, Right Reason in the English Renaissance 
(Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1962), pp. 123-127; and Joan Bennett, Reviv- 
ing Liberty: Radical Christian Humanism in Milton's Great Poems (Harvard University 
Press, 1989), esp. pp. 6-17. 


Book I 

and arguing that God is the ultimate source of all goodness and perfec- 
tion, Hooker concludes that it is God towards whom all things are 
striving and attempting, each in its own way, to imitate. He calls upon 
Plato and Hermes Trismegistus to witness that even heathen wise men 
have recognized this yearning of all things to participate in the divine 
being and that in human beings this desire takes the form of pursuing 
knowledge (chap. 6) and virtue (chap. 7). 

Like all creatures, Hooker argues, human beings actively seek the 
highest good, namely, participation in God. Striving for the immor- 
tality of God leads humans to share with other creatures the drive for 
self-preservation, the lowest of human goods. Human beings also share 
with animals the faculties of "sense" (external sense perception) and 
"fancy" (inward mental imaging), but are distinct from the brutes in 
having reason that enables them to reach higher than for sensible 
things by further illuminating what ought to be done and what avoid- 
ed. Although reason belongs to humans by nature, it may be improved 
through education and made more prompt to distinguish truth from 
error and good from evil. In the context of elaborating upon "the 
right helps of true art and learning," Hooker staunchly defends the 
Aristotelian logic and the Ciceronian rhetoric which he had been 
taught at Oxford over against the Ramist innovations that had become 
so popular with the more radical reformers, especially at Cambridge. 

The higher goods transcending "sense and phancy" whereby human 
beings imitate the constancy and excellence of the activity of God are 
the knowledge of truth and the practice of virtue, the two foundations of 
human action: knowledge enlightens and informs the soul, and will 
sets it in motion. Following Aquinas, Hooker holds that the human 
will is necessarily disposed toward the good. Evil as such cannot be 
desired; what humans desire is therefore always something which 
appears to be good, even though it may not really be so. However, 
goodness must be known before the will can choose it. In this con- 
text, Hooker appropriates the Aristotelian and Thomistic distinction 


For an analysis of how Hooker differs from Aristotle on the moral teaching 
concerning what is good and how it is grasped by a combination of will and reason- 
ing, see Faulkner, Richard Hooker and the Politics of a Christian England, pp. 61-96. 

On Hooker's disparagement of "Ramystry," see 1.76.9—20 and n. 



between appetite, which is determined by sense objects, and will, 
which is rational desire and, as appetite's controller, determines itself. 

In spite of the rather optimistic view of human nature implied by 
this rationalist interpretation of the human will, Hooker is acutely 
aware of original sin and the after-effects of the fall. He admits that 
sometimes the will is recalcitrant and refuses to choose what reason 
indicates as good. Or again, humans may sin through laziness and 
ignorance, preferring a lesser to a greater good because they have not 
troubled to find out, as they could and should, the superiority of the 
greater. The post-lapsarian pursuit of knowledge concerning the good 
is now so painful a thing that humans all too often prefer darkness to 
light. Nevertheless, the primary thrust of his thought is that human 
beings can accept this "realistic" analysis of the actual state of things 
without abandoning their belief in either the strength and validity of 
reason to discern the difference between truth and falsehood and 
between good and evil, or in the ability of the human will (always 
presupposing the general concurrence of divine grace) to control the 
appetite and therefore to make tolerably upright choices. 

In chapter 8, Hooker sets forth "the naturall way" that human 
reason goes about discovering the universal laws which ought to guide 
the will to that which is good. Traditional patristic and medieval 
teaching, based upon a Platonic or Stoic interpretation of Romans 
2:14—16, was that the knowledge of the natural moral law (Hooker's 
law of reason) was innate in humankind, since God had implanted its 
precepts in the hearts or minds of individual people. Hooker some- 
times adopts this traditional language and speaks of humans having 
"written in their hearts the universall law of mankind" (16.5; 1:139.1— 
2), or describes the law of nature as "an infallible knowledge imprinted 
in the mindes of all the children of men" (II.8.6; 1:190.12-13). Yet in 
his main discussion of the law of reason in Book I, where he argues 
that humans only grow to knowledge by degrees, he rejects the idea 
that the knowledge of the principles of the law of nature is innate in 
favor of the Aristotelian dictum that at birth the mind is a tabula rasa, 
"a booke, wherein nothing is, and yet all thinges may be imprinted" 
(6.1; 1:74.26-27). 

Again following Aquinas, Hooker employs the Aristotelian doctrine 


Book I 

that as "in every kind of knowledge some such grounds there are, as 
that being proposed the mind doth presently embrace them as free 
from all possibilitie of error, cleare and manifest without proofe" (8.5; 
1:85.10—13). He uses this principle to argue that the precepts of the 
law of reason derive from a series of intuitively self-evident proposi- 
tions which human beings are capable of discovering for themselves 
through the natural light of reason. Some of these principles are 
more general and have only to be stated to be acknowledged as 
universally true; for example: "the greater good is to be chosen before 
the lesse," and the great good attained through immediate hardship is 
preferable to immediate delight folio wed by lasting injury. Other 
principles are less general and yet still do not need rational demonstra- 
tion because they are so clear. For example, even "mere naturall men" 
without revelation have discovered by the light of reason that God 
exists, and from this knowledge can deduce further laws, such as "God 

For an analysis of how Hooker's theory of the way the axioms of the law of 
reason are known differs from those of Aquinas and Aristotle, see Faulkner, Richard 
Hooker and the Politics of a Christian England, pp. 85-86, and "Reason and Revelation 
in Hooker's Ethics," American Political Science Review, 59 (1965): 680-690. Faulkner 
points out that Hooker does not have a Thomistic special faculty (synderesis), which 
grasps the first practical principles of the natural moral law, nor does he have a 
concept of conscience (synedesis), which applies those principles to concrete situations 
through the practical syllogism. Hooker is rather an "intuitionist" who argues that the 
most general axioms of the law of reason are self-evident and that the less general ones 
can be deduced from such human affections as the desire for eternal life. Linwood 
Urban treats the far-reaching consequences of Hooker's modification of the Thomist 
position concerning the knowledge and application of the general precepts of the law 
of reason in "A Revolution in English Morality," Anglican Theological Review, 53 
(1971): 5-20. The fact that Hooker has no discussion of "synderesis" and of "con- 
science" in the scholastic Thomist sense, along with Hooker's use of the words 
"conscience" and "heart" to refer metaphorically to "feelings" and "affections," 
prompted McGrade to compare Hooker's exposition of philosophy and theology in 
Book I of the Lawes with the works of Cicero: both combined philosophical wisdom 
with rhetorical eloquence, but the final result contained little of the hard formal 
examination of first principles that was common in the medieval universities and that 
could still be found on the continent during the Reformation; see An Abridged Edition, 
pp. 37-38. 



is to be worshipped," and with regard to human interrelationships that 
"parents are to be honored," and "others should be used by us as we 
ourselves would by them." 

Having rejected the concept of innate ideas, Hooker suggests two 
natural ways of knowing the dictates of right reason concerning 
goodness in human action (8.2; 1:82.27—83.16). The first and safest 
way is to go back to first principles and determine by abstract reason- 
ing what the causes of goodness are. But, he observes, this method is 
so difficult that all shun it. The second way is to discover empirically 
the signs always annexed to goodness, and especially the sign of 
consensus concerning what all people have thought the principles of 
the law of reason to be, for "the most certaine token of evident 
goodnes is, if the generall perswasion of all men do so account it," and 
"the generall and perpetuall voyce of men is as the sentence of God 
him selfe" (8.3; 1:83.18—19 and 84.1—2). This general agreement of 
humankind, however, is itself ultimately grounded in the intuitive 
self-evidence of the propositions under consideration, which has 
persuaded individual persons of their validity. 

By observing the axioms of this law, which, in spite of the devas- 
tating consequences of sin, can still be discovered by reason apart from 
special divine revelation, human beings put themselves in conformity 
with that eternal law by which God has determined from the begin- 
ning within himself to govern all things. 

Human Law: The Origin of Government 
Hooker's inquiry into the hierarchy of laws brings him in chapter 

The appeal in chapter 8 to consensus as a means of determining the content of 
the law of reason is most likely indebted to the pragmatic tradition of English com- 
mon law, and it is closely associated with the argument in chapter 10 on "human 
law" that "consensus" is the source of political power, and that "custom" as the 
counsel of the past for guidance in the present is the source of political authority. See 
Manley, Convention: 1500-1750, esp. 2.2, " 'Use Becomes Another Nature': Custom 
in Sixteenth-Century Politics and Law," pp. 90-106; and compare Egil Grislis, "The 
Role of Consensus in Richard Hooker's Method of Theological Inquiry," in The 
Heritage of Christian Thought: Essays in Honor of Robert Lowry Calhoun, ed. Robert E. 
Cushman and Egil Grislis (New York: Harper & Row, 1965), pp. 64—88. 


Book I 

10 to an explication of the concept of "human law," which he sets 
in the context of an even broader theory concerning the nature of 
"politique societies" and the related questions of how and why they 
came into existence. 

Hooker weaves several divergent strands of political thought into his 
theory of the nature and origin of the state. He begins by identifying 
two reasons why society requires government: 

Two foundations there are which beare up publique societies, the 
one, a naturall inclination, wherby all men desire sociable life and 
fellowship, the other an order expresly or secretly agreed upon, 
touching the manner of their union in living together. (10.1; 
1:96.1 7-20). 43 

The first Hooker derived from Aristotle through Aquinas, both of 
whom give a rational explanation of the state that can be justified on 
an analysis of human nature independent of divinely revealed truths 
and specifically Christian moral values. According to this view, the 
state and governmental authority are not conventional but natural and 
rational, that is, necessary for the fulfilment of basic human needs and 
ends. Like Aristotle, Hooker maintains that human beings cannot live 

Cargill Thompson described Hooker's differentiation of human laws from the 
laws of reason: "human laws differ from the laws of reason in three major respects: 
first, they are coercive, for they carry the sanction of positive force, and any breach of 
them will be punished by the authority that has appointed them; secondly, they are 
of only local validity, for they are binding only on the society that has made them and 
not on all men, except in the case of the law of nations, which Hooker treats 
separately; thirdly, insofar as they are 'merely' human, they are mutable, for if 
circumstances change, they can be altered"; S.R.H., p. 33; Studies in the Reformation, 
p. 159. 

The founding of the state upon two such apparently self-contradictory princi- 
ples led Ernest Barker to judge Hooker "a belated medievalist" who stood astride 
radically dissimilar world views: "through him the Aristotelianism of the Middle Ages 
helped to found a theory of original contract, utterly different from itself, and bitterly 
hostile to its own teaching"; The Political Thought of Plato and Aristotle (1906; rpr. New 
York: Russell and Russell, 1959), p. 509. Compare Shirley, Richard Hooker and 
Contemporary Political Ideas, p. 227. 

"Man is naturally a political and social animal (as is demonstrated [by Aristotle] 
in Book I of Politics)"; S.T., la2ae.72.4. 



on their own, and that "to supply those defects and imperfections, 
which are in us living, single, and solelie by our selves, we are natural- 
ly induced to seeke communion and fellowship with others" (10.1; 

Nevertheless, the relative optimism implicit within this naturalistic 
view of the origin of the state is balanced by a more realistic tradition 
that takes into account that nature is fallen. Like Aquinas before him, 
Hooker did not believe that the Aristotelian theory of the natural 
origin of the state contradicted the Augustinian explanation of the state 
as a divinely appointed punishment and remedy for sin. The idea of 
sin and its consequences was fundamental dogma: 

Lawes politique, ordeined for externall order and regiment 
amongst men, are never framed as they should be, unlesse pre- 
suming the will of man to be inwardly obstinate, rebellious, and 
averse from all obedience unto the sacred lawes of his nature; in 
a word, unlesse presuming man to be in regard of his depraved 
minde little better then a wild beast, they do accordingly provide 
notwithstanding so to frame his outward actions, that they be no 
hinderance unto the common good for which societies are in- 
stituted: unlesse they doe this, they are not perfect. (10.2; 1:96. 

It is an essential presupposition of Hooker's political theory that 
human nature is so corrupt that people are no longer capable of living 
together without strife and envy, and it is this deplorable condition 
that makes the existence of government necessary. 

Yet for Hooker, as for Aquinas, the reality and consequences of sin 
have not invalidated "the very principles of nature." There still 
remains the existence of a sphere of "natural" ethical and political 
values that can be grasped by reason and (presupposing the general 
concurrence of divine power) at least partially implemented by the 
human will. It is with regard to this issue concerning the qualitative 
and quantitative measurement of the consequences of human sinfulness 
that Hooker differs from his disciplinarian opponents. He fully 

45 See 1.10.1 (1:96.32-97.5), 10.5 (100.16-17), and 10.13 (108.7-17). 

On how the dispute between the apologists of the Elizabethan church and the 
disciplinarians was shaped not only by differing interpretations of the authority of 


Book I 

agrees that human nature has been sorely wounded by sin, but not to 
the extent presupposed by opponents who have been influenced by 
that extreme Calvinist doctrine known as "the total depravity of 
man." Hooker's more optimistic evaluation of the abilities of human 
reason and will for making valid decisions in the temporal realm was 
recognized by and protested against by Travers before the writing of 
the Lawes and afterwards by the anonymous author(s) of A Christian 
Letter as an unwarranted elevation of natural reason and an overly 
optimistic emphasis upon the ability of human will to make good 
decisions based on reason's determinations (see 4:17.15—19.16, this 
edn.). In this sense, Hooker was the first among the apologists of the 
established church in attempting to refute the disciplinarians at the 
level of philosophical first principles by explicitly bringing to light 
what he perceived to be the distorted pessimism in their analysis of the 
capabilities remaining in even fallen human nature. 

In reconciling what he inherited from Aristotle on the one hand 
and from Augustine and the church Fathers on the other, Hooker 
went farther than Aquinas when he argued that political societies owe 
their existence not only to the natural human instinct for association 
and to the consequences of sin but also to some kind of agreement, 
either formal or tacit, made by human beings when they first came 
together to form societies. The polemical significance of this notion 
of voluntary agreement as an essential part of the explanation for the 
origin of the state is the affirmation that all legitimate government is 
ultimately grounded in a form of popular consent, and this in turn 
implies that the laws of the Church of England are binding on the 
disciplinarians because they have been established with the consent of 
English society as a whole (see pp. 372-379, below). 

Hooker's theory of formal or tacit agreement as an explanation for 

Scripture but also by two differing concepts of human nature, see John F. H. New, 
Anglican and Puritan: The Basis of Their Opposition, 1558-1640, pp. 6—12, 28, and 
Loyer, 2:675-676. 

Cargill Thompson identified this emphasis upon some kind of "agreement" 
among humans before government can be established as the key to Hooker's political 
theory, "for it is the basis on which all his subsequent arguments about the nature of 
political authority and the validity of human laws rests"; S.R.H., p. 38; Studies in the 
Reformation, pp. 163-164. 



the origin of political societies has rightly been seen as anticipating the 
social-contract theories of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, 
especially that of John Locke as set forth in The Second Treatise of 
Government (1690). Careful reading of the primary texts suggests 

There has been and remains a great deal of debate over what, how much, and 
why Locke borrowed from Hooker's Lawes, especially with regard to Hooker's 
theories concerning natural law and the origin, nature, and limits of the state; see 
George Bull, "What Did Locke Borrow from Hooker?" Thought, 1 (1932): 122-135 
Angel Facio Moreno, "Dos Notas in Torno a la Idea de Derecho Natural en Locke 
Hooker en el Segundo Tratado de Gobierno Civil," Revista de Estudios, 190 (1960) 
159—164; and Peter Munz, The Place of Hooker in the History of Thought, Appendix D. 
These questions are complicated because of the deference which Locke repeatedly 
gives to "the judicious Hooker" and the extensive citation of Lawes in his early Two 
Tracts of Government (1660—1661) and especially in his later The Second Treatise of 
Government (1690). 

Some scholars have argued that Locke borrowed ideas directly from Hooker and 
then transmitted them directly to eighteenth-century revolutionaries in America and 
France; see Henry Hallam, Constitutional History, 1:214-223; Shirley, Richard Hooker 
and Contemporary Political Ideas, pp. 201, 215, 225; and John S. Marshall, "Richard 
Hooker and the Origins of American Constitutionalism," in Arthur L. Harding, ed., 
Origins of the Natural Law Tradition (Dallas: Southern Methodist University Press, 
1954), pp. 56—57, 60. Others have claimed that Locke appealed to the authority of 
Hooker in order to support his new heterodox and revolutionary theories with a 
respectable pedigree (A. P. D'Entreves, The Medieval Contribution to Political Thought: 
Thomas Aquinas, Marsilius of Padua, Richard Hooker (1939; rpr. The Humanities Press, 
1959), pp. 125— 132; J. W. Gough, Introduction, in John Locke, The Second Treatise of 
Government and A Letter Concerning Toleration (Oxford: Basil Blackwell, 1966), p. xii; 
E. T. Davies, The Political Ideas of Richard Hooker (London, 1946), p. 66; and Richard 
H. Cox, Locke on War and Peace (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1960), p. 51. 

Some scholars have argued that Locke's conception of natural law is continuous 
with the classical Stoic and Christian position represented by Cicero and Aquinas and 
coming down to Hooker; see esp. Raghuveer Singh, "John Locke and the Theory of 
Natural Law," Political Studies, 9 (1961): 111-112. Others have taken the position that 
Locke breaks entirely from the classical, Christian, Thomistic theory of natural law and 
expounds a new, modern, or even "pseudo-" natural law theory; see, for example, R. 
I. Aaron, John Locke (Oxford, 1937), pp. 267-268; Leo Strauss, Natural Right and 
History (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1953), pp. 120, 165-166; and H. A. 
Rommen, "The Natural Law of the Renaissance Period," University of Notre Dame 
Natural Law Proceedings (1948), pp. 94-95. 

Some scholars have argued that Hooker is one of the earliest representatives of the 
theory of the social contract and even that he was the first thinker to propound the 


Book I 

that, even though Locke cites passages directly and fairly accurately 
from Hooker's Lawes (almost exclusively from Book I and primarily 
from chap. 10), the two men stand in different philosophical traditions. 
Locke retains, somewhat inconsistently, traditional rationalist formulae 
within what is fundamentally a voluntarist theory of natural law and 
social contract, thereby placing himself in that school of thinking that 
had its origins in the metaphysical voluntarism of Duns Scotus and 
especially in the voluntarist-nominalist-empiricist-fideist tradition of 
William of Ockham and his successors, including Calvin and the disci- 
plinarian party in England (see above, p. 103 and n. 36). Hooker 
explicitly rejects this tradition (see 1:60.27-61. 4. n), standing predomi- 
nantly in the rationalist-realist-essentialist tradition of Aristotle and 
Aquinas — although tempered by the English common law tradition. 
Therefore, even though the two authors often use the same terminol- 
ogy in developing their ideas and theories, the words and concepts do 
not mean the same things or function in the same way in their respec- 
tive overall thought patterns. 

Furthermore, compared with Locke and other later social contract 
theorists, Hooker's exposition of this part of his theory of government 
appears at best to be imperfectly developed. He nowhere distin- 

doctrine in its classic form; see Shirley, p. 46. Others question whether he can be 
classified as a social contract thinker at all; see Cargill Thompson, S.R.H., p. 40; 
Studies in the Reformation, p. 166. 

Given the persistence of scholarly disagreement on this issue, there are grounds for 
taking a fresh look at the relation between the thought of Hooker and Locke. First, 
the characters of both authors are now seen as far more complex and fascinating than 
hitherto expected; Hooker and Locke have each emerged as polemical authors who 
are writing in very different historical contexts with very different purposes in mind. 
Second, information about the date and Locke's method of composition bears directly 
upon his quotation of Hooker; see W. von Leyden, ed., Essays on the Law of Nature 
(Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1967); Philip Abrams, ed., Two Tracts of Government (Cam- 
bridge: Cambridge University Press, 1967); and especially Peter Laslett, ed., Two 
Treatises of Civil Government (Cambridge: The University Press, 1963). 

As Cargill Thompson observed, the major reason for the apparent imprecision 
of Hooker's discussion of the social contract is that he was actually more concerned 
with the concept of consent as providing a broader and more satisfactory explanation 
for the origin of government than the more limited concept of contract; S.R.H., p. 41; 
Studies in the Reformation, p. 167; compare Davies, Political Ideas, p. 69. 



guishes, for example, between an agreement among all to unite (the 
pactum societatis) and an agreement with a sovereign to obey (the pactum 
subjectionis). Most recent interpreters of Hooker have agreed that, while 
there is no trace in his political theory of a pactum societatis or social 
contract proper, there are indications of the idea of a contract viewed 
as a pactum subjectionis. Furthermore, in contrast to Locke and other 
seventeenth- and eighteenth-century social-contract theorists, Hooker 
urged the idea of compact as a rational explanation of how society and 
government came into existence, not as a foundation for the right of 
resistance to a tyrannical sovereign. 

That various forms of corporate government were voluntarily 
brought into existence by means of some kind of original compact is 
not necessarily inconsistent with Hooker's naturalistic Aristotelian and 
Thomistic presuppositions. In his view, life in society is in accord- 
ance with human nature, yet it needs a rational, deliberate act of 
union by individual heads of households to bring the state into exist- 
ence. Consent is necessary because it is the only rational foundation 
for government and resolution of conflicts, for "without . . . consent, 
there were no reason, that one man should take upon him to be Lord 
or Judge over another" (10.4; 1:99.8—9). He does not reject Aristotle's 
view that there is "a kind of naturall right in the noble, wise, and 
vertuous, to governe them which are of servile disposition" (99.11— 
12); nevertheless, he continues, "for manifestation of this their right, 
and mens more peaceable contentment on both sides, the assent of 

For example, see D'Entreves, Medieval Contribution, pp. 130-131; J. W. Gough, 
The Social Contract: A Critical Study of Its Development, 2nd edn. (Oxford: Clarendon 
Press, 1957), pp. 71-75; Davies, pp. 65-66. 

Hooker is probably most indebted for the rudiments of his social contract 
thinking within a larger Aristotelian context to the writings of sixteenth-century 
Thomists who, without adopting the premises of voluntarist individualism, used the 
conception of social contract to affirm the dignity and uniqueness of generic man as 
a being able to grasp moral imperatives within the framework of the eternal law; see 
Gough, Social Contract, pp. 67-75, and Bernice Hamilton, Political Thought in 
Sixteenth- Century Spain: A Study of the Political Ideas of Vitoria, De Soto, Suarez, and 
Molina (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1963). The political order was created by moral 
agents who, guided by right reason, sought appropriate institutional arrangements 
whereby to express their natural impulse to communal life. 


Book I 

them who are to be governed, seemeth necessarie" (99.12—15). Hook- 
er likewise agrees with Aristotle that nature has given fathers supreme 
authority within their private families, but he cannot understand how 
this authority can account for the origin of the state by being extended 
beyond the limits of the individual family. No one can have legitimate 
authority over "a whole grand multitude" unless by the consent of the 
governed or extraordinarily by the immediate appointment of God 
(99.1 5-27). 52 

Hooker's emphasis upon communal consent does not mean that he 
was a political liberal developing a democratic theory of the state, for 
he balances the notion of the popular origin of "the power of domin- 
ion" with the conception of the political body as a living, growing 
organism having a changing but continuous history. Even though 
political authority was originally vested in the people, once govern- 
ment has been established and authority conveyed to the ruler or 
rulers, it is irrevocable, "because corporations are immortall" (10.8; 
1:103.24). By combining the concept of "custom" as the counsel of 
the past for guidance in the present with the concept of "consensus" 
from the pragmatic tradition of the English common-law tradition, 
Hooker is able to sustain within his theoretical framework both 
continuity and the possibility (or necessity) of change, the stability of 
tradition with the power of accommodation. 

It would therefore be just as incorrect to call Hooker a "proto- 
democrat" as to interpret him as a royal absolutist supporting a patriar- 
chal divine right of kings. The principle of consent functions in 
Hooker's thought as a constitutional principle, and he combined the 
idea with a medieval conception of the supremacy of law. It is in 

The exception by "immediat appointment of God," or "given extraordinarily 
from God," is of historical importance, for Hooker believed that William the Con- 
queror had sought to base his tide to rule on conquest rather than consent; see Lawes, 
VIII.6.1 (3:385.19-386.1). 

Davies, for example, warned against reading too much into Hooker's "con- 
tractarianism": "even in theory, Hooker comes perilously near a doctrine of royal 
absolutism, and when we test whether there be any practical checks on this power, 
we find that, in practice, royal power is absolute" (Political Ideas, p. 66); on the limits 
Hooker does in fact impose upon royal power, see below, Introduction to Book VIII, 
pp. 351-377. 



Book VIII that Hooker argues most clearly and most extensively that 
law is the supreme sovereign and that the English crown is subject to 
it, but the foundation for a mixed constitution and for political repre- 
sentation is laid in chapter 10 of Book I. 

Kinds of Human Law 

Hooker's subsequent discussion of the nature and kinds of "human 
law" presupposes his analysis of the nature and origin of the state. 
Laws which establish some duty to which humans were already bound 
by the law of reason Hooker calls "mixedly human," to be distin- 
guished from "merely human" laws that do not derive any of their 
force from the law of reason and that make provisions based solely 
upon that which is deemed to be expedient or convenient. He argues 
that laws both "mixed" and "merely human" are made by human 
societies, and that some of these societies are civilly united while 
others are spiritually joined. Crucially for the argument with the 
disciplinarians, Hooker assigns the disputed topic of ecclesiastical polity 
to that realm of "merely human" laws made by the church insofar as 
it is in its temporal existence a particular kind of "politique societie." 

Hooker further distinguishes between those human laws which 
pertain to individuals insofar as they are individual human beings, 
those which pertain to individuals as citizens of a particular political 
society, and those which bind all political bodies in their interaction 
with one another (the so-called jus gentium or "law of nations"). He 
subdivides the law of nations into primary, based upon an integral 
human nature before the fall into sin, and secondary, based upon a 
human nature which is fallen and depraved. But since additional 
elaboration of the law of nations does not advance his polemic, Hook- 
er truncates this part of his discussion and turns to the corresponding 
notion of the relationship that ought to exist between specifically 
Christian nations. Arguing that there ought to be general church 
councils to decide quarrels concerning ecclesiastical laws arising be- 
tween different Christian nations, he relegates to the jurisdiction of 
such councils all disputes concerning matters of polity, order, and 
regiment in the church. This application of positive human laws to the 
government of the church as a particular species of "politique societie" 


Book I 

lays the foundation for the later defense of "the power of dominion" 
and royal supremacy in chapter 2 of Book VIII. 

Divine Law 

To this point, Hooker has been dealing with the realm of human 
nature and reason, and the laws which he has been considering from 
chapters 5 through 10 have all been such as "mere natural men" can 
discover by the light of reason. Beginning with chapter 11 and contin- 
uing through chapter 15, however, he introduces the theme of divine 
or supernatural law, which, as a gift of divine grace, transcends and 
perfects while it does not annihilate the natural knowledge and observ- 
ance of the law of reason or the making and enforcing of just human 

Hooker returns to an Aristotelian-Thomistic exposition of first 
principles to explain why God has not only republished in Scripture 
the basic axioms of the law of reason but has also revealed there other 
laws that human reason could never have discovered by itself. Assert- 
ing that all beings desire perfection after their own kinds and distin- 
guishing between those goods which are desired as means to some- 
thing else and those which are desired as ends in themselves, Hooker 
concludes that God, as the only infinite and perfect good, is the 
ultimate end desired by human beings and that he alone is the final 
source of their felicity. In other words, the perfection which human 
beings naturally yearn for is a completion beyond life in the temporal, 
terrestrial realm. An infinite good must exist to match the infinite 
human yearning that finds no lasting happiness on earth, for "it is an 
axiome of nature that naturall desire cannot utterly be frustrate" (1 1.4; 

Yet even though nature points beyond itself insofar as this desire for 
union with God is a constituent part of human nature itself, natural 
reason can suggest no means of attaining it except by doing good 
works. But all human works are the works of a fallen, sinful nature. 
Therefore, Hooker reasons, either there is no salvation, or God must 
reveal a supernatural and extraordinary way leading to the bliss of 
eternal life. This God has done, not only by republishing the basic 
axioms of the law of reason and illustrations of their particular applica- 



tions (because of their being obscured by the effects of sin and the 
difficulty the ignorant have in applying first principles to particular 
cases), but also by publishing for the first time the mystical and super- 
natural way of attaining eternal felicity through performing the duties 
of faith, hope, and love — all divinely "imputed" by grace but, para- 
doxically, becoming genuinely "inherent" at the same time. Nowhere, 
except in God's divine law revealed in Scripture to rectify nature's 
obliquity, can any knowledge of these three supernatural duties be 

Hooker stands with the magisterial Protestant Reformers in affirm- 
ing the principle of sola scriptura in the sense that the Scriptures contain 
all that is necessary for salvation. But over against what he perceived 
to be the extreme biblicism of his disciplinarian opponents, he does 
not allow the primacy of scriptural authority in the sphere of faith and 
morals to exclude the continuing authoritative role of reason and 
tradition in the making of expedient "human laws" concerning 
"matters indifferent." 

Scripture is divinely intended to supplement and perfect the truths 
and laws discerned by natural reason; it does not destroy or even 
supersede them. 

Having refuted what he perceived to be the narrow biblicism of the 
Genevan party, however, Hooker next turns to refute the comple- 
mentary allegation of romanizing, which Travers had lodged against 
him in the controversy at the Temple. His formulation in chapters 
13 and 14 of the relation between Scripture, reason, and tradition is a 
clear example of his distinctive theological position as one of balance 
and moderation between the extremes of Reformation Protestantism 

On the elusive character of Hooker's central controversy with the disciplinari- 
ans over the primary authority of Scripture and its conformity with truth discovered 
by natural reason, and for the implications of this controversy for the divergent 
positions taken concerning "Christian liberty" and to "things indifferent," see John S. 
Coolidge, The Pauline Renaissance in England: Puritanism and the Bible (Oxford: 
Clarendon Press, 1970), pp. 1-54; see also Peter Lake, Anglicans and Puritans? Presbyte- 
rianism and English Conformist Thought from Whitgift to Hooker (London: Unwin Hyman, 
1988), pp. 15-17, 23-26, and 151-154. 
ss See Supplication, 5:200.13-208.14. 


Book I 

on the one side and Tridentine Catholicism on the other. Although 
his basic position remains constant, his emphasis shifts, depending on 
whether he is addressing Genevan Calvinists or Roman Catholics. 
Against Geneva he urges the necessity of reason and appears almost to 
exalt it into an independent channel of divine revelation; against 
Rome he underscores the "absolute perfection of Scripture" with 
regard to its ultimate purpose of revealing those truths necessary for 
the salvation of humankind. By pointing out the distortion-prone 
nature of all unwritten traditions, he counters the Tridentine doctrine 
that Scripture is only a partial source of "all revealed supernatural 
truth" that must be supplemented by tradition if salvation is to be 
attained, and he explicitly rejects the Council of Trent's assertion that 
there is revealed law of God contained in unwritten apostolic tradi- 
tions worthy of being held with authority and reverence equal to that 
of Scripture. Yet Hooker so qualified the Protestant principle of 
sola scriptura that his position seemed to his Calvinist opponents to 
undermine the sufficiency of Scripture for human salvation as codified 
in Article 6 of the Thirty-Nine Articles: 

In like sort, albeit scripture do professe to conteyne in it all 
things which are necessarye unto salvation; yet the meaning cannot 
be simplye of all things that are necessarye, but all things that are neces- 
sarye in some certaine kinde or forme; as all things that are necessarye, 
and eyther could not at all, or could not easily be knowne by the 
light of naturall discourse; all things which are necessarye to be 
knowne that we may be saved, but knowne with presupposall of 
knowledge concerning certaine principles whereof it receaveth us already 
perswaded, and then instructeth us in all the residue that are 
necessarie. In the number of these principles one is the sacred 

56 1.13.2; compare II.8.7 and see Introduction to Books II, III & IV, pp. 167-168, 
below. See also Egil Grislis, "The Hermeneutical Problem in Richard Hooker," 
S.R.H., pp. 183-184. Oberman outlines the basic doctrinal issues at hand in "Quo 
Vadis, Petre? Tradition from Irenaeus to Humani Generis," Scottish Journal of Theology, 
16 (1963): 225-255; rpr. The Dawn of the Reformation: Essays in Late Medieval and Early 
Reformation Thought (Edinburgh: T. & T. Clark, 1986), pp. 269-296. Yves M.-J. 
Congar refers briefly to Hooker in Tradition and Traditions: An Historical and a Theologi- 
cal Essay (New York: Macmillan, 1967), pp. 516-517. 



authoritie of scripture. Being therefore perswaded by other meanes that 
these scriptures are the oracles of God, them selves do then teach 
us the rest, and laye before us all the duties which God requireth 
at our hands as necessary unto salvation (14.1; 1:125.32—126.13, 
my emphasis; compare 4.2). 

Negatively, Hooker's balance between the sufficiency of Scripture for 
salvation and the part played by reason and tradition in initially au- 
thenticating the divine authority of the Bible rejects the Tridentine 
addition of unwritten apostolic traditions to the corpus of Scripture as 
authoritative divine revelation for teaching faith and morals; at the 
same time, it rejects the Calvinist doctrine that self-authenticating 
Scripture contains all the truth that humans need to know. Positively, 
the whole argument here is a representative example of his application 
of the general philosophical and theological principle presupposed 
throughout all of his works: not only is it true that "nature hath need 
of grace" but also that "grace hath use of nature." 


Hooker points out in his summary of Book I that his purpose has 
been to define and delimit the spheres proper to the various kinds of 
law in the hope of avoiding the confusion that results from the per- 
ceived attempt of the precisionists to measure all the actions of human 
beings by God's divine law revealed once and for all time in Scripture. 
He admits that Scripture is sovereign in its own sphere and that it 
sufficiently reveals all truths necessary for salvation; nevertheless, divine 
law revealed in Scripture is not the only law that God in his wisdom 

The argument that "something besides Scripture" must give rational assurance 
that Scripture is the Word of God is related to Travers's objection to Hooker's 
argument in Certaintie that "the assurance of that we believe by the word, is not so 
certain, as that we perceive by sense" (see above, pp. 89-90 and n. 17). The author(s) 
of A Christian Letter charged Hooker with compromising the Church of England's 
doctrine that "Holy Scripture containeth all things which are necessary to salvation" 
by supplementing Scripture with truth discerned by reason and by introducing the 
human testimony of church tradition to authenticate Scripture as God's Word 
(4:11.20-24, 14.14-18, this edn.). 


Book I 

has provided for the guidance of humankind. It is part of the distinc- 
tive nature of human beings to be subject not to one law but to 
several different kinds of law, according to different aspects of their 

all serveth but to make manifest that as the actions of men are of 
sundry distinct kindes, so the lawes thereof must accordingly be 
distinguished. There are in men operations some naturall, some 
rationall, some supernaturall, some politique, some finally Ecclesi- 
asticall. Which if we measure not ech by his owne proper law, 
whereas the things themselves are so different; there will be in 
our understanding and judgement of them confusion. 

Hooker has now proved to his own satisfaction that his more complex 
analysis of the nature and different kinds of law provides a better 
foundation for a Christian society and its public worship than his 
opponents' oversimplified distinction between the clear authority of 
divine supernatural law revealed in Scripture and the arbitrariness of 
positive, human-made law. But even though Hooker has here set 
forth first principles which are intended to serve as a foundation for 
the remainder of the Lawes, the content of Book I overlaps — and 
therefore should be read in especially close conjunction with — Books 
II and III. Examining the precisionist view that Scripture is the only 
rule of things that may be done by human beings, Hooker responds in 
Book II that there are many matters upon which Scripture is silent and 
that in many of these cases the natural light of reason not only may 
but must be used. Charging his opponents with debasing reason in 
order to exalt the authority of Scripture, he dismisses the validity of 
the disciplinarian arguments based upon an exaggeration of the infir- 
mity of human reason. 

He returns to this theme of the excessive disparagement of reason in 
one of the most important passages in Book III: "they never use 
reason so willinglie as to disgrace reason" (8.4; 1.221.28). As in Book 

58 1.16.5, 138.10-17; compare II.1.4, 147.21-148.6. L. S. Thornton traced Hook- 
er's analysis of all the various kinds of law back to two groups which cross and recross 
each other: (a) natural and supernatural and (b) natural and positive; see Richard 
Hooker: A Study of His Theology (London, 1924), p. 34. 



I, Hooker here again argues that everything necessary for salvation is 
contained in Scripture, but that the particular manner of church polity 
remains in the category of "matters indifferent," that is, merely acces- 
sory and left to the discretion of the church insofar as it exists as a 
species of political society. Because such matters are primarily affairs 
that belong to rational discretion in the sphere of human positive law, 
it is an error to imagine that God must have necessarily laid down in 
Scripture a single form of church government applicable to all times 
and places. 

The peroration to law at the end of Book I distills the essence that 
permeates the entire treatise: 

Wherefore that here we may briefely end, of lawe there can be 
no lesse acknowledged, then that her seate is the bosome of God, 
her voyce the harmony of the world, all thinges in heaven and 
earth doe her homage, the very least as feeling her care, and the 
greatest as not exempted from her power, but Angels and men 
and creatures of what condition so ever, though ech in different 
sort and maner, yet all with uniforme consent, admiring her as 
the mother of their peace and joy. (16.8; 1:142.7-14) 

iv. Hooker and His Contemporaries 

We know from the other books of the Lawes that Hooker obviously 
was acquainted with the works of Travers, Cartwright, and other 
major spokesmen for the disciplinarian position. We may assume that 
he was also abreast of the apologetic works of contemporary defenders 
of the established church and consciously drew from them, even though, 


presumably for tactical reasons, he does not cite them in his notes. 
He knew and appropriated arguments from the earlier anti-Catholic 
treatises of his former patron, John Jewel, as well as anti-disciplinarian 
works by John Bridges, Thomas Bilson, Matthew Sutcliffe, Richard 
Bancroft, Richard Cosin, Hadrian Saravia, and especially of John 

59 See Introductions to The Preface, pp. 63-64, above, and to Book V, pp. 
207-209, below. 


Book I 

Whitgift. Insofar as he was influenced by these colleagues, the Lawes 
takes its place alongside other apologies that were being written by 
loyal defenders of the Elizabethan church. 

Nevertheless, Hooker went beyond his contemporaries, not only as 
a superior literary stylist but also as a more effective — in part because 
a more conciliatory — polemicist. Nowhere do we see the reasons for 
this distinctiveness more clearly than in Book I, which differs in so 
many ways not only from other polemical works of the time but from 
the Preface and other books of the Lawes as well. Book I articulates 
more clearly than elsewhere the conciliatory tone that so differentiates 
its author from proponents on both sides of the heated debate, the 
reluctance to assume the traditional mode of refuting the work of 
opponents line by line and point by point, the sophistication of 
training in philosophical theology and logic, and the breadth of read- 
ing that undergirded it, all sustained by the powerful bias (noted by 
Coleridge) toward the "the General." 

It is the generality of Book I that makes it most distinctive, for 
Hooker here moved the controversy with the disciplinarians to a 
different, broader, and more philosophical plane. Without ignoring the 
necessities of practical politics, he sought to distance himself from the 
immediate controversy and to state general principles of laws and 
societies. Only in doing so was he able to stake out genuinely new 
ground on which to meet his opponents. 

Whitgift and other apologists of the established church had met 
their antagonists on their own chosen ground of interpreting authori- 
tative texts from Scripture and early Christian tradition, punctuated by 
occasional appeals to the convenience or expediency of established 
policies (see pp. 72-73, above). Hooker accepted the authority of 
Scripture and early Christian tradition, but by setting the concept of 

The most recent comprehensive treatment is Peter Lake, Anglicans and Puritans?, 
cited in n. 54, above. 

61 The Collected Works of Samuel Taylor Coleridge: Marginalia, ed. George Whalley 
(London: Routledge & Kegan Paul; Princeton: The University Press, 1980), p. 1156. 
In context, the characterization is critical of Hooker; Coleridge is commenting on 
V.22.10 (2:97.11-19), where Hooker disputes the Puritan view of the efficacy of 



"things indifferent" within the framework of a traditional Thomistic 
theory of the hierarchy of laws as further refined by distinctions drawn 
from theology and the English common law he transformed the 
dispute. By shifting the emphasis from the dire consequences suffered 
by human nature after the fall to a realistic yet comparatively more 
optimistic view of human nature that enabled him to defend the place 
of reason in the making of "positive" human laws, and by justifying 
the legitimate modification of such laws through historical develop- 
ment, Hooker closed the breach opened by the magisterial Reforma- 
tion and maintained by the disciplinarians between reason and revela- 
tion, nature and grace. In Hooker's inclusive view, the law of reason, 
human positive laws, and the divine law revealed in Scripture are all 
embraced within God's (second) eternal law. Reason and revelation 
provide different but complementary forms of guidance for human 

The peculiar strength and appeal of Book I is the manner in which 
it resolves — or appears to resolve — the contradictions inherent in being 
an apologetic yet philosophical theologian. In one aspect of this 
vocation Hooker was unrelenting in the recognition and delineation 
of the disruptions of his times, and in this sense he provides a mirror 
of that turmoil. In the other, he issued a protest in the name of an 
ordered human existence within a Christian society, and here he 
attempts to inscribe a new word that, without supplanting the authori- 
ty of the divine Word revealed in Scripture, would also be religious in 
its depths and redemptive in its power. 


Books II, III & IV 

William P. Haugaard 

When Richard Hooker determined to issue the Preface and first 
four books of the Lawes alone in 1593, he justified his decision in an 
appended "advertisement to the Reader": the "generalities of the cause in 
question as here are handled" could legitimately be considered apart 
from the discussions of "particulars" that were to follow in Books V— 
VIII (1:345.5—7). The "general" character of Book I is easily dis- 
cerned, for there, in spite of its underlying polemical structure, Hook- 
er sought to discover "the very foundation and root, the highest 
welspring and fountaine" of the laws in dispute (1.1.2; 1:57.19). Since 
Hooker extended the sense of a "law" to include that which deter- 
mines the "force and power," the "forme and measure of working" of 
the "workes even of God himselfe," the first book clearly concerns 
fundamental understandings of God, creation, and human life (1.2.1; 
1:58:26—33). The "general" character of Books II to IV is less readily 

I. Theology and Polemic 

Whereas the first book cites numerous classical and patristic authors 
but not a single opponent, the succeeding three cite more of the latter 
than all of his classical and patristic authorities combined. The chapter 

1 Pref. 7.2-6 and Table between Pref. and I (1:34.23-36.9 and 54); see Introduc- 
tion to The Preface, pp. 37—44, above. 

See Introduction to Book I, pp. 84—89, above. 

See pp. 91-96, above. The only two explicit sixteenth-century references in 
Book I are to a commentator on medieval legal tradition and to William Whitaker's 
response to Cardinal Bellarmine (1. 10.10 and 14.5; 1:105 J and 12?.z). In II-IV, 
Hooker cites classical and ancient Jewish authors on 15, and patristic sources on 67 
occasions; he makes 96 direct references to Puritan writings. 



headings of Book I suggest an informative essay of interest to the 
philosophically or theologically minded of any era (1:55—56). By 
contrast, the chapter heads of Books II— IV treat abstruse issues raised 
in outdated religious debates, and the contents of these chapters 
(1:143, 193—194, and 271—272) may suggest they deserve the obscurity 
to which most sixteenth-century theological polemics have been 
relegated. Yet to dismiss these books as of merely topical interest is to 
miss the depth of theological originality that underlies Hooker's 
response to the Puritans. These books treat two central and related 
religious issues of sixteenth-century Europe: the authority of Holy 
Scripture and the nature of the church. The first provides a major 
theme of Books II and III and the second underlies significant sections 
of Books III and IV. 

The authority of the Bible has, along with the theology of justifi- 
cation, a claim to have been the primary religious issue of sixteenth- 
century Europe. All the groups that had repudiated papal authority in 
the first half of the century stood firmly on the grounds of holy writ 
to oppose the contemporary magisterium of holy church. However, 
after eight decades of attempts to determine the "true" faith and 
practice of Christianity taught by the Bible, each group claimed that 
its own distinctive understandings of Christian faith and practice were 
solidly based on, or at the least within the purview of, that authorita- 
tive text. But throughout the debates, little attention had been paid to 
the character of scriptural authority: the precise ways by which biblical 
learnings and injunctions might be interpreted, related to other "au- 
thorities," and applied in human life. The humanists, Erasmus above 
all, had reopened discussions on the textual authority of Scripture, but 
after firmly heeding the humanist call ad fontes and recovering the 
original Hebrew and Greek of the Bible, theologians curiously ne- 
glected to question the nature of scriptural authority that was central 
to the debate. Roman Catholics and Protestants alike debated the roles 
of tradition and Scripture and the authoritative voices of scriptural 
interpretation. Even those most dedicated to the principle of sola 
scriptura did not systematically discuss the processes by which they 
expounded and applied the text. They simply quoted and cited the 
Bible and presumed the appropriateness of their methodology. A 
modern student of the Reformation must extract their hermeneutical 


Books II, III & IV 

principles from the examples of their exegetical practice. 

In the 1521 Diet of Worms Martin Luther had declared: "Unless I 
am convinced by the testimony of the Scriptures or by clear reason, 
. . . my conscience is captive to the Word of God." By appealing to 
Scripture and reason, Luther, whether consciously or not, had pointed 
to the question, how are Scripture and reason related to one another? 
Yet neither he nor other Reformers gave systematic attention to the 
question. As Hooker attempted to identify the "generalities" of the 
Puritan cause, he found himself confronted with that question and the 
wider issues of scriptural authority in which it is embedded. 

The Reformation also brought the basic issue of ecclesiology to the 
fore: what is the church? Lutheran, Reformed, Anabaptist, and Roman 
Catholic each developed distinct understandings by which the true 
earthly community of Christians might be identified. The English 
church drew from continental Reformation formulae and patterns, 
and, like other European bodies, modified, as need dictated, traditional 
structures of the national church. From his experiences of church life 
under the Elizabethan settlement as well as from his theological stud- 
ies, Hooker developed a vision of the church, coherent in its essentials 
and accidentals, that was unique for its age. 

''Scripture is the onely rule of all things which in this life may he done by 
men" (1:143.6—8). This statement from the title of Book II raises the 
whole question of the appropriate authorities to which religious men 
and women ought to turn as they make decisions affecting their own 
and their neighbors' lives. Does their faith require them to look for 
direction exclusively from the text they believed to provide an account 
of God's revelation? To what extent may they rely on the shared store 
of knowledge and experience that is common within and across human 
cultures? What is the proper role of reason and experience as believers 
attempt to apprehend truth and to discern good and evil? 

Scripture sets forth "a forme of Church-politie the lawes whereof may in 
no wise he altered" (1:193.4—6). The topic of Book III poses the contin- 
uing issue of the essential structures of the religious community itself. 

4 Martin Luthers Werke (Weimer: H. Bohlau, 1883-), 7:838; Luther's Works, ed. J. 
Pelikan and H. T. Lehmann (Philadelphia and St. Louis: Fortress and Concordian 
Presses, 1955-), 32:112. 



As the community enlists men and women from distinctive cultural 
contexts, to what extent may it incorporate new elements that modify 
its settled structures? As movements of history present believers with 
new opportunities and challenges, what in the structures of their 
communities must they retain unchanged? What may — or perhaps 
ought — they alter in appropriate response to the changed conditions? 
May believers turn to common human experience and reason, as well 
as their own sacred writings, for guidance in determining the shape of 
their distinctively religious society? 

"Our forme of Church-politie is corrupted with popish" elements banished 
by other "reformed Churches whose example . . . we ought to have followed" 
(1:271.3—7). Underneath the particular complaint in the title of Book 
IV lie larger issues that arise when a religious community divides over 
principles that some believe to be sacrosanct and non-negotiable. How 
can the separated groups relate to one another? In confrontation with 
conflicting models of a faith that presupposes a unified community of 
believers, how does a particular religious body make judgments about 
the structures of its own life? When dissidents within such a body 
demand conformity with a differing model, what are the responsibili- 
ties of its governing authorities towards the dissidents and towards 
other members of the community? 

These issues would be significant in any society in which a partic- 
ular religious group has sufficient weight to influence societal struc- 
tures and patterns of human behavior. In sixteenth-century Europe, in 
which religion was a public and governmental concern, such issues 
constituted fundamental public policy issues which inevitably involved 
the whole apparatus of the state as well as of specifically ecclesiastical 
authority. Thus Hooker discusses concerns that touch any community 
that includes an intransigent minority. The decisions made about the 
issues debated by Hooker affected English men and women in every 
corner of the land. Their sixteenth-century garb belies their character 
as continuing concerns of succeeding ages. 

ii. Hie Argument 

Just as the books published in 1593 constitute the "generalities" to 
be considered "apart," before the "particulars" of Books V-VIII, so on 


Books II, III & IV 

a smaller scale do the "generalities" of Book I precede the particulars of 
Books II— IV. The broad discussions of Book I establish the principles 
enabling human minds to apprehend God's working in creation, 
redemption, and revelation; Book II considers what Hooker regards as 
"the very maine pillar" of the disciplinarians' cause: that "scripture ought 
to be the only rule of all our actions." Only in Book III does he 
narrow the issue to the specific challenge laid down by the disciplinar- 
ians, that Scripture must "of necessitie" provide an inalterable and 
"particular form of politie Ecclesiasticall" (Pref. 7.4; 1:35.15—16). By 
responding in Book IV to the "generall accusations" of continued 
"popish" and insufficiently "reformed" rites and ceremonies in the 
English church, Hooker further narrows the range of discussion as he 
considers whether English ecclesiastical polity ought to be determined 
in response to the standards of other Christian bodies (7.5; 1:35.18— 
23). As the Puritans' concerns for the primacy of Scripture provide a 
focus of Books II and III, their suspicion of tradition provides the 
focus of Book IV. 

Book II 

The primary epistemological issue in Christian theology, the relation 
between reason and revelation, is the major topic of Book II and is 
continued in Book III. As the title suggests, Book II concerns the 
Bible as a directive guide for proper human behavior. In an untided 
introduction inserted before the initial chapter, Hooker direcdy con- 
fronts what he judges the "most generall" seed of the disciplinarian 
determination to overthrow the "intier forme of our Church-politie": 
their conviction "that one onely lawe, the scripture, must be the rule to 
direct in all thinges, even so farre as to the taking up of a rush or strawe." 

Taking the phrase about the "strawe" from exchanges between 
Archbishop Whitgift and Thomas Cartwright, Hooker seized on 
Cartwright's defense of the proposition. It framed "the very maine 

1:345.5-7; see Introduction to The Preface, pp. 75-76, above. 
Pref. 7.3; 1:35.4-6; see Introduction to Book I, pp. 86-89 and 120-122, above. 
II. 1.1-2; 1:144.14—145.14. On Hooker's own introduction to Book II, which 
is anomalous among the books of the Lawes, see 1:144. 1-145. 34.n. 

On the Whitgift-Cartwright debate, see Introduction to The Preface, n. 152, 



pillar" of the grounds on which the disciplinarians based their case. A 
desire to extend the use of Scripture, Hooker argued, had "begotten 
an error enlarging it further then (as we are perswaded) soundnes of 
truth will beare" (1.2; 145.9—10). He proceeded in the remaining 
chapters (1—4) to discuss a set of disciplinarian proof-texts, negative 
argumentation from Scripture (5—6), and the validity of human author- 
ity and reason (7), treating each of these against the foil of a set of 
particular disciplinarian statements. The final chapter (8) summarizes 
the argument. 

The first four chapters form a unit of three brief and one more 
extensive exegesis of verses Cartwright had cited to demonstrate the 
authority of the Bible as the exclusive guide to Christian living. 
Citing Proverbs, Cartwright had identified the written Word of God 
with the divine "wisdome" that leads to "every good way." Hooker 
insists that wisdom imparts her treasures not only by "the sacred 
bookes of Scripture" but also by "the glorious works of nature," by 
spiritual inspiration, and by the training of "worldly experience and 
practise," reasserting the wide epistemological understandings that he 
laid down in Book I (1.4; 147.21-148.4). 10 Citing Paul's observation 
that human obedience glorifies God, Cartwright had concluded that 
such obedience must be determined by the "commaundement and word 
of God." Also drawing on New Testament texts, Hooker counters 
with evidence that "infidels themselves" without benefit of Scripture 
may "judge rightly of the qualitie" of those human actions which 
glorify God (2.1-3; 148.8-150.18). 

After briefly disposing of the third exegetical challenge (1 Tim. 4:5) 
in chapter 3, Hooker devotes more space than he had to the first three 
chapters together to considering the main issue of this section drawn 
from Romans: "whatsoever is not of fay th, is sinne" (4.1; 151:21). Refus- 
ing Cartwright's limitation of the object of faith to the Bible, Hooker 
understands the faith of which St. Paul writes to be " a full perswasion 
that that which we doe is well done," and he provides examples within 

pp. 71-72, above; on Hooker's use of this section, see pp. 162—163, below. 
Hooker summarizes Cartwright's position in II. 1.3 (1:146.25—27). 
For example, chap. 8; see above, Introduction to Book I, pp. 102-108 and 
120-122, above. 


Books II, III & IV 

Scripture and from Cartwright himself of such persuasions that are not 
assured by biblical texts (4.1— 2;152.1— 153.13). Stricdy interpreted, Cart- 
wright's exegesis means that "we sinne, if any thing but scripture" directs 
our choices (4.5; 155.23). His sense of the goodness of God's creation 
outraged, Hooker argues that God "cannot but be delighted with" the 
human nature he has given us "when we exercise the same any way 
without commaundement of his to the contrarie" (4.5; 155.35—156.2). 

The second section of Book II, comprising chapters 5 and 6, treats 
of the use of negative arguments from the Bible: if "Scriptures teach it 
not, avoid it" (5.1; 157:32—158.1). Whitgift had introduced the issue 
when he had asserted that much of the 1572 Admonition to the Parlia- 
ment was based on arguments ah auctoritate negative. In response, 
Cartwright had provided a series of examples drawn from patristic 
writings, from the Bible, and from Hooker's own patron, John Jewel, 
to demonstrate the ways in which such arguments had solidly authori- 
tative precedents. 

Hooker first lays down his basic premise: the most that Cartwright's 
examples demonstrate is that "in some cases a negative argument taken 
from scripture is strong" but they fail to prove such arguments to be 
"generally" (universally) sound, "which is the point in question" (5.2; 
158.11—18). He then argues that the cited patristic texts support his 
rather than Cartwright's conclusion. He prefaces chapter 6 with 
Cartwright's chosen scriptural verses, intended to prove that, if God 
has not commanded a thing, "therefore it must not be" (6.1; 167.26). 
Hooker judges that these, like the patristic citations, prove nothing 
more "then that an argument in some kinds of matter may be good, 
although taken negatively from scripture," concluding that neither the 
Bible, the Fathers, nor a highly regarded English theologian would 
limit the sources of Christian knowledge of God's laws to the Bible 
(6.4; 174:19-20). In the course of his exegesis of Tertullian (160?- 
250?) in chapter 5, Hooker adduces an argument that points ahead to 
his defense of human authority in the next section of Book II and to 
the proper use of human authority in ordering church affairs, the 
principal theme of Book III. 

11 Answere (1572), pp. 20-21; Defense (1574), p. 76; PS, 1:176. 

The third-century church Father had taught that "scripture in many things doth 



The underlying constructive character of the Lawes becomes evident 
in chapter 7, the lengthiest of Book II, in which Hooker vindicates 
both reason and tradition as they have been articulated by human 
authorities. Responding to three passages from Cartwright, he opens 
the chapter with the charge that by drawing "all things unto the 
determination of bare and naked scripture . . . [thereby] abating the 
estimation and credit of man," the disciplinarians would eventually 
"overthrowe such orders, lawes, and constitutions in the Church" that 
depend upon human authority, thereby leaving "neither face nor 
memorie of Church to continue long in the world" (7.1; 175.4— 
13). l Hooker points out that "notwithstanding mans infirmitie," yet 
human authority may, in fact, "enforce assent" in a variety of situa- 
tions, including the crediting of the authority of Scripture itself (7.3; 

Taking up Cartwright's insistence that, although arguments from 
"the authoritie of men" may bear weight in "humaine sciences" in 
matters divine "they have no manner force at all," Hooker describes 
the hierarchy of evidence by which truth may be judged: first by the 
senses, "plaine aspect and intuitive beholding," then by "invincible 
demonstration," and finally, where neither of these is available, by the 
"greatest probability." Once the Scriptures are acknowledged to be 
the word of God, they become "the strongest proofe of all," but 
Hooker has already noted that such an acknowledgment is itself based 
on "the authoritie of man" and consequently on what he would term 
"the probability" — what today might be called "the weight of evi- 
dence" — involved in such a judgment (7.3 and 5; 177.22—30, 178.1—5, 
and 179.10—25). Lacking a logically sound proof from reason or the 
infallible testimony of Scripture, a reasonable person would defer to 

neither commaund nor forbid, but use silence; ... in the Church a number of things 
are strictlie observed, wherof no lawe of scripture maketh mention one way or other; 
that of things once receyved and confirmed by use, long usage is a lawe sufficient" 
(5.7; 165.15-19). See below, pp. 146-147. 

One of these passages is prefaced to the chapter and the other two are in 
marginal notes; see II.7.1, 4, and 6 (1:174.24-175.3, 178./i, and 181. i). Hooker adds 
a fourth quotation at the end of the chapter and cursorily dismisses it; see 7.10 (186.2- 
5 and k). 


Books II, III & IV 

the consensus of "a number of the learnedest divines in the world" 
(7.5; 180.29—181.4). After considering and dismissing a catena of 
patristic witnesses cited by Cartwright, Hooker invokes scriptural 
evidence to conclude that God does not will us "so farre [to] reject 
the authoritie of men as to recken it nothing" (7.8; 184.7—8). 

In the final summary chapter, Hooker asserts "the sufficiencie of scrip- 
ture unto the end for which it was instituted," as he had concluded in 
Book I (1.14.1; 1:124.27—28). In matters of salvation, "the unsufficien- 
cie of the light of nature is by the light of scripture" fully and perfectly 
supplied. He will not include under sin that which is done "by direc- 
tion of natures light and by the rule of common discretion without 
thinking at al upon scripture" (II.8.3 and 6; 188.4-5 and 191.5-6). 
The truth "concerning sufficiencie of holy scripture" lies between the 
opinion that he attributes to "the schooles of Rome," that knowledge 
necessary for salvation includes traditional as well as scriptural truths, and 
the opposite one, that Scripture contains not only "all thinges in that 
kinde necessary, but al thinges simply." To attribute "unto scripture 
more then it can have" is to run the danger that "the incredibillitie of 
that do cause even those thinges which indeed it hath most abound- 
antly to be lesse reverendly esteemed" (8.7; 191.14—192.1). 

Book III 

The title of Book III is also drawn from a simple proposition culled 
out of disciplinarian arguments: "in Scripture there must be of necessitie 
contained a forme of Church-politie the lawes whereof may in no wise be 
altered' 1 (1:193.3—6). Epistemology continues to figure prominently 
while discussions focus on standards for the life of the Christian 
Church rather than on the determination of standards for human 
behavior in general. Accordingly, ecclesiology joins epistemology as a 
second major topic of the book. 

Following an introductory essay (chap. 1), Hooker proceeds to 
discuss particular scriptural norms urged by the disciplinarians for 
determining church polity (2—7), the legitimacy of reason as such a 
norm (8—9), and the manner by which Scripture and reason may be 
employed together in ordering church life (10—11.13). Following these 
increasingly lengthy sections is a review of the argument (11.14—21). 



The first chapter on "the nature of the church" is an expository 
essay preliminary to a consideration of the norms by which its "lawes 
of politie or government" might be determined (§ 1; 1:194.24—27). 
Hooker makes no explicit reference to his disciplinarian opponents. 
Phrases from Ephesians provide the foundation for his ecclesiology: 
"one bodie . . . one horde . . . one faith . . . one baptisme" (§§ 3—7; 1:196. 
3—7). He next provides categories to take account of the reality of 
division when idolatry, heresy, excommunication, and reform separate 
Christians from one another (§§ 8-13). The final section (14) em- 
phasizes that the church is not an assembly, but an organic public 
society with the characteristics that he has laid down in Book I for all 
human societies. He concludes with a definition of "Church-politie": 
the form of ordering "the publique spirituall affayres of the Church of 
God," including "both governement and also whatsoever besides" 
belongs to its public order (§ 14; 1:206.26-31). 

Chapters 2 to 7 consider a set of disciplinarian arguments for the 
exclusive use of scriptural norms in determining church polity. Hooker 
first responds to two objections that Cartwright had raised to Whit- 
gift's defense of the terms of the Elizabethan settlement (chaps. 2-4): 
Whitgift had severed discipline and church government from the 
weightier matters of faith "necessarie unto salvation," and he had 
abridged "the large and rich contents" of the Bible's directions for 
church polity (2.2; 1:208.12-209.19 and s). Hooker insists that the 
Gospel and even writings of disciplinarians make "some thinges 
necessarie, some thinges accessorie and appendent onely." In the first 
category he includes "articles of Christian fayth [the ancient creeds], 
and the sacramentes" (3.3-4; 211.7-212.4 and v). Playing on the 
imagery of Cartwright's critique, Hooker claims that "it is no more 
disgrace for scripture to have left a number of . . . thinges free to be 
ordered at the discretion of the Church, then for nature to have left it 
unto the wit of man to devise his owne attyre" (4.1; 213.4-7). Hook- 
er "willingly" grants that the "precepts that scripture setteth downe 
are not fewe . . . even in particularities" but insists that they support 

On Hooker's ecclesiology, see pp. 169—174, below. 
15 Compare 1.10, esp. §§ 11 and 14 (106:22-23 and 109.7-110.16); see Introduc- 
tion to Book I, 108-116, above. 


Books II, III & IV 

"not that forme which [disciplinarians] imagine, but that which we 
against them upholde" (4:1; 1:213.18-25). 

Chapters 5—7 discuss a proof-text from Deuteronomy which, from 
the time of the Admonition, had reverberated through all the discipli- 
narian writings to demonstrate that "nothing ought to be established in the 
Church which is not commaunded by the worde of God" (5.1; 214.15—21). 
After pointing out that no church, including that of Christ and the 
apostles, has, or even could have, strictly followed such an injunction 
(chap. 6), Hooker considers Cartwright's interpretive modification: 
since the Bible could not include "every thing in specialtie," Cart- 
wright had noted "fower generall rules" in St. Paul's writings by 
which church affairs may be governed (7.1; 216.22—217.8 and n). 
Such rules, Hooker counters, are simply "edicts of nature" which the 
church would have "stood bound to observe" whether or not Paul 
had repeated them (7.2; 217.30-218.3). Although these general rules 
are not laws that "require anie one particular thing to be done," 
Hooker observes that Admonitioners, Cartwright, and Travers all 
arbitrarily insist that before they will conform, they "require some 
speciall commandement for that which is exacted at their hands." 

Chapters 8—10, together with 11.1—13, link Book I with the topical 
polemic of the Lawes. Here Hooker describes the manner by which 
the general principles of his understanding of revelation and reason 
may be applied to the life of the Christian Church. Hooker attacks 
an inclination among Puritans to 

thinke they cannot admire as they ought the power and authori- 
tie of the word of God, if in things divine they should attribute 
any force to mans reason. For which cause they never use reason 
so willinglie as to disgrace reason. (8.4; 221.25—29) 

Cartwright had attempted to soften the specificity of the require- 
ment that all church orders must be "commaunded in the Word of God" 
not only by his four general rules but also by interpreting the phrase 
to mean that they must be "grounded upon" Scripture (8.1—2; 220.19— 

Chap. 7.4; 1:218.19-219.3 and 18-24; see l:218.31-35.n and 218.35-219.3.n. 
See Introduction to Book I, pp. 84—86, above. 



20). Dispatching this proposed resolution by demonstrating its patent 
ambiguity, Hooker moves on to the basic epistemological question, 
largely setting aside until chapter 1 the specific issue of their applica- 
tion to church order. God's will is made known "by light of nature 
and not by scripture alone" in spite of Puritan efforts to make the 
name of nature "hatefull with men" (8.3-4; 221.10, 17-18). He then 
identifies six arguments that nurture the opinion that "the waye to be 
ripe in faith [is] to be rawe in wit and judgement; as if reason were an 
enimie unto religion, childish simplicitie the mother of ghostlie and 
divine wisedome" (8.4—5; 222.24—28). He responds to these arguments 
one by one (8.6—11) and in the remainder of chapter 8 elaborates on 
his response to the sixth, which had claimed that human reason is 
irrelevant to the leadings of God's spirit (8.12—18). Using the example 
of the way people are brought to Christian conviction, Hooker dis- 
cusses the relation of the Bible to both tradition and reason. Although 
the tradition of the church first draws men and women to a convic- 
tion that "the scriptures are the oracles of God him selfe" (8.13; 1:231. 
5—6), in the confirmation of that faith as well as in an initial conver- 
sion, reason plays an essential role: 

if I beleeve the gospel, yet is reason of singular use, for that it 
confirmeth me in this my beleefe the more: If I doe not as yet 
beleeve, nevertheles to bring me to the number of beleevers 
except reason did somwhat help, and were an instrument which 
God doth use unto such purposes, what should it boote to 
dispute with Infidels or godles persons for their conversion? 
(8.14; 232.10-15) 

Hooker discusses the operation of God's spirit in leading "true" Chris- 
tians to either truth or right action (8.15) and the role of reason in the 
interpretation of Scripture (8.16). Citing New Testament accounts of 
Christ and of apostles employing reason (8.17), he concludes that 

the selfe same spirit, which revealeth the things that god hath set 
down in his law, may also be thought to aid and direct men in 
finding out by the light of reason what lawes are expedient to be 
made for the guiding of his Church, over and besides them that 
are in scripture. (8.18; 235.7-11) 


Books II, III & IV 

In chapter 9, expressly citing Thomas Aquinas's discussion of law, 
Hooker asserts that human lawes, including ecclesiastical laws, must 
agree with "the generall laws of nature . . . without contradiction unto 
any positive law in scripture." Since "the light of naturall understand- 
ing wit and reason is from God," laws so framed "have God him selfe 
for their author" (9.1-3; 237.27-29, 238.25-27, and 239.1 1). 18 

In chapters 10 and 11.1—13, Hooker describes how reason and 
Scripture together may be employed in determining the appropriate 
application of specific scriptural injunctions to church polity. Hooker's 
argument in chapter 10 is largely expository with only brief citations 
of three Puritan writers: Dudley Fenner, Cartwright, and Travers. 
At this point, he draws heavily on both the assertion of Book I that 
Scripture contains and reaffirms many natural laws and on its descrip- 
tion of the character of positive laws that appear in the Bible (see 1.12 
and 15). He considers the conventional division of Old Testament 
laws into moral, ceremonial, and judicial (10.1-4). Moral laws, identi- 
fied with the law of nature, remain in full force: God is their author, 
they were published in Scripture, but they stand on their own, as the 
purposes for which God instituted them remain. Ceremonial laws 
are abrogated: although God is their author and they were committed 
to Scripture, their purpose has ceased. The status of judicial laws is 
more ambiguous: God is their author, they were committed to Scrip- 
ture, and "in a great part" the end for which they were instituted 
continues; nonetheless, the "alteration of persons or times" may have 
rendered them "unsufficient to attain unto that end" (10.4; 1:243.2- 
10). Considering New Testament patterns "which belong to discipline 
and outward politie" to be of the same category as Old Testament 
judicial laws, Hooker concludes that those too may be "changed as the 
difference of times or places shall require" (10.5—7; 245.1—7). 

Hooker next considers a frequently used disciplinarian argument 
that Christ would not have been faithful had he not left as detailed 
instructions to the church as God had given Israel through Moses 

See Introduction to Book I, pp. 120-122, above. 

19 Chap. 10.3, 6, and 8; 1:241. z, 244.a, and 246.c. 

20 For identity of the moral law with that of Moses, see 1.12.1, 16.5, and III.9.2 
(1:120.1-15, 138.21-139.10, 237.9-12). 




(11.1—6). Hooker observes that in framing Old Testament laws, 
God "had an eye unto the nature of that people and . . . countrey." 
For the multinational Christian church, therefore, rather than one 
uniform "kinde of positive Lawes" for all, "peculiar and proper 
considerations" need to be taken into account (11.6; 251.1—10). 
Hooker turns the Puritan argument upside down by suggesting that 
the detailed positive laws and the continuing "extraordinary means, 
oracles, and Prophets" by which God personally responded to daily 
"new occasions" in the life of ancient Israel reinforce the conclusion 
that the Christian church, since it lacks such direction, must have 
"freedome and libertie graunted to make lawes" (11.7—10; 256.1—9). 

After an analysis of a text (1 Tim. 6:14), which disciplinarians had 
urged in support of their cause (11.11), Hooker examines the distinc- 
tions which the disciplinarians make between those things "in externall 
discipline or regiment" that they claim to be immutable and those 
they deem changeable. Disciplinarian principles for such distinctions, 
when carefully examined, in contrast with their applications, are found 
to agree with those of supporters of the establishment (11.12—13). 
They concur that although "the lawes of Christ" are not to be altered 
in matters of substance, differences of "times, places, persons, and 
other the like circumstances" require changes in lesser matters "as the 
Church shall judge it expedient." Hooker concludes that the discipli- 
narians must demonstrate that "we have eyther added or abrogated 
otherwise then we ought, in the matter of Church-politie" (11.13; 
260.11—13 and 261.7—20). On such grounds, which take account of 
changing historical contexts, Hooker was prepared to debate the 
specialties of Books V— VIII. 

Hooker begins the final section of the book with brief chapter-by- 
chapter summaries, incorporating additional data and arguments into 
his resumes of chapters 2 and 4 and concluding with the first part of 
chapter 11 (§§ 14—17). He tersely dismisses some of the "more 
familiar and popular" disciplinarian arguments, including some intend- 
ed to enforce the specifics of Genevan polity (11.18-20). Hooker 

For discussion of the disciplinarian writings, see nn to 1:247.8—248.6.^, 247.21— 
25, 248.9-H.i, and 248.28-30./ 

22 The additional data appears in 11.15-16 (1:261.30-263.21 and 263.23-264.15). 


Books II, III & IV 

possibly added this latter section after he had decided to issue the first 
four books in 1593, before the complementary discussions of the 
"specialties" were ready for publication. Hooker's final words in 
this book take the disciplinarians to task for urging what God "in 
congruity of reason ought to do" instead of searching out and admir- 
ing "what God hath done" (11.21; 269.24-27). 

Book IV 

Ecclesiology constitutes the principal underlying issue in Book IV, 
with special concern for determining the norms of religious ceremo- 
nial. As Hooker confronts Puritan accusations that the polity and 
practices of the English church are too akin to those of Rome and too 
unlike those of foreign Reformed churches, he applies standards for 
the use of reason and Scripture in light of the historical perspectives he 
has developed and demonstrated in Books II and III. 

Book IV opens and closes with expository essays (chaps. 1 and 14). 
After the opening discussion of ceremonies, Hooker turns to an 
extended series of disciplinarian objections to the norms of the Eliza- 
bethan church (chaps. 2-10). He then considers three major issues in 
successive chapters: Jewish origins of ceremonial, the scandalous 
character of Roman ceremonies, and the lack of conformity with 
other Reformed churches (chaps 11-13). In Books II and III, he 
similarly cleared away the less weighty issues in brief early chapters (1— 
4; 2—7) before confronting the heavier timber of his opponents' 
arguments. The book concludes with a discussion of the Church of 
England in ecumenical perspective (chap. 14). 

The opening essay (chap. 1) roots church ceremonial in "some 
ground of reason [found] even in nature," for "visible solemnitiejs]" 
have universally characterized human societies in "publique actions 
which are of waight whether they be civil and temporall or els spiritu- 
al and sacred" (§ 3; 1:274.14-18). Distinguishing permanent substance 
from variable ceremonial in sacraments, Hooker notes that although 
that substance has been delivered "in few wordes . . . the due and 

See Introduction to The Preface, pp. 37—44, above. 



decent forme of administring those holy sacraments, doth require a 
great deale more" (§ 2; 273.21—28). He closes by citing both Travers 
and Cartwright to demonstrate how thin the dividing line is between 
the two gospel sacraments and other "significant ceremonies" in 
church life (§ 4; 276.12-20). 

Among the initial series of objections to English church ceremonies 
which Hooker identifies, he turns first to the accusation of excessive 
pomp in the rituals prescribed by the Prayer Book (chap. 2). He then 
catalogues Puritan arguments why Roman ceremonies should not be 
emulated (chap. 3), demonstrates the inconsistency of advanced Protes- 
tant practice with theory (chap. 4), and finally responds to the argu- 
ments, one by one (chaps. 5—10). 

Countering the complaints of Travers and Cartwright that the 
"outwarde statelines" of English church ceremonies has "departed 
from the auncient simplicitie of Christ and his Apostles," Hooker 
comments on the difficulty of knowing the details of apostolic practic- 
es but rests his case on the principle established in Book III of the 
need to recognize changing historical contexts (2.1 and 3; 1:276.27—28 
and 278.19-279.2). 

Again invoking both Travers and Cartwright, who demand "the 
utter relinquishment of all thinges popish," Hooker cites their list of 
biblical and patristic proof-texts (3.1-2; 280.17—18). When pressed, his 
opponents admit that even ceremonies used by Rome that are not 
required by Scripture need not be abolished unless they are "unprof- 
itable, or when as good or better may be established." In common 
Puritan rhetoric, however, the mere fact of similarity to the ceremo- 
nies of Rome provides sufficient reason to urge authorities "to do 
them away" (4.1 and 3; 285.16-19 and 287.15-19). 

Hooker dispatches what he judges to be Cartwright's specious 
interpretation of a sentence from Augustine, considers Old Testament 
texts that demonstrate God's concern that ancient Israel's distinctive 
customs mark their "carefull seperation" from neighbors, and responds 
to a catena of patristic citations that purport to show how the early 
church "would have the christians differ from others in their ceremonyes" (6.2 
and 7.1; 290.10 and 293.8-12). He insists that reasons other than "care 
of dissimilitude" dictated the laws intended to separate Jew and Chris- 
tian from pagan (6.3 and 7.3; 292.26 and 295.5-9). As Hooker's re- 


Books II, III & IV 

sponses become increasingly distant from the relevant Puritan texts in 
chapter 3, he sprinkles additional brief quotations as reminders of the 
point under discussion. 

Hooker responds to appeals to the maxim that "evils must be cured by 
their contraries," to the danger that Rome may be encouraged by the 
maintenance of similar ceremonies, and to the grief that envelops "godly 
brethren" who are forced to behold them. Hooker provides brief ad homi- 
nem responses to each of these reasons for "the utter evacuation of all 
Romish ceremonies" (8.1, 9.3, and 10.1; 298.13-14, 303.25, and 

Having dispatched reasons for abolishing all ceremonies not required 
by Scripture, Hooker considers three weightier objections that apply 
only to some (chaps 11—13). Citing patristic writers, Puritans had 
objected to ceremonies of Jewish origin. After discussing the judaizing 
controversy recounted in the New Testament, Hooker concludes that 
the church retained many elements of Jewish religion but repudiated 
others. The church had in "no one thing so manie and so contrarie 
occasions of dealing as about Judaisme" (11.9; 314.30—32), and he 
insists that, as the church cannot be deprived of liberty "to use names 
whereunto the [Jewish] lawe was accustomed, so neither are we 
generally forbidden the use of the things which the [Jewish] lawe 
hath" (11.10; 316.14-16). Because the patristic citations treat of special 
issues, they do not establish a general rule prohibiting all ceremonies 
that originated in Judaism. 

Hooker judges that the "waightiest . . . [and] most worthy" objec- 
tion to Roman ceremonies concerns those they claim to have been so 
"grosly and shamefully abused" that they may become "grievous 
causes of offence" (12.1; 319.17-320.2). After observing that people 
are only scandalized "when they are moved . . . unto sinne," Hooker 
examines a series of historical instances of such scandal. Turning to the 
misused ceremonies under discussion, Hooker asks, who are they 
"whom we scandalize, by using harmeles things unto that good end 

Such quotations appear at or near the beginning of each chapter: 7.1 (293.8- 
12), 8.1 (298.z), 9.1 (301.6), and 10.1 (305.17-22). Additional quotations in these 
chapters repeat the texts given in chapter 3: 8.3 (300. a), 9.2 (302. c), 9.3 (303. e), and 
10.2 (306.£). 



for which they were first instituted?" (12.2-5; 320.16-17 and 323.7- 
9). If "here or there some one be found" who is led astray by such 
ceremonies, the proper action is not, as Puritans suggest, to take the 
ceremonies away from everyone, but rather to cure "such evils by 
instruction" of those few who need it (12.7—8; 325.2—3, 11—12 and 
326.3). In fact, those pastors who "have raysed contention" about rites 
and ceremonies might have more productively spent their "time and 
labour" in teaching their flocks than in making "bitter invectives 
against the ceremonies of the Church" (12.8; 326.12—16 and 30—31). 
The third complaint is that "divers things" have been retained that 
"all the Churches . . . of our confession in doctrine" have abrogated. Hook- 
er acknowledges a certain hypothetical value in ceremonial uniformity 
among churches "to thavoyding of dissention" (13.1 and 2; 328.12— 
25), but, short of a general council (impractical) or of the establish- 
ment of a single judicial authority over the whole church (undesir- 
able), he sees no way for such uniformity to be achieved. Mutual 
emulation is unworkable, and Cartwright's proposal that England 
should follow the continental churches whose reformation preceded 
England's is unreasonable (13.8—9). Since the Bible and reason provide 
the grounds for decisions about ceremonial, 

seeing the law of God doth not prescribe all particular ceremo- 
nies which the Church of Christ may use, ... it is not possible 
that the lawe of nature and reason should direct all Churches 
unto the same things, ech deliberating by it selfe what is most 
convenient. (13.8; 1:332.24-29) 

The final chapter of Book IV is an essay on the reformation of the 
Church of England in the larger perspective of the western church. 
Hooker affirms the necessity of the reforms which had altered its "re- 
ceaved lawes ... as had beene in former times an hinderance unto 
pietie and Religious service of God." Yet change of laws in any 
human society can "with the common sorte impaire and weaken the 
force of those groundes, whereby all lawes are made effectuall"; hence, 
if the expected benefit be small, it may be better "to beare a tollerable 


Books II, III & IV 

soare . . . then to venter on a daungerous remedie." Hooker con- 
trasts "both kinds of reformation, as well this moderate kind, which 
the church of England hath taken, as that more extreme and rigorous 
which certaine Churches elsewhere have better liked" (14.6, 342.33— 
343.3). Book IV concludes with a brief account of the course of 
reformation under four Tudor monarchs. Alluding to what seemed to 
many Elizabethans the charmed longevity of their queen who, at her 
coming to the crown, had raised the reformed religion "as it were by 
myracle from the dead," Hooker proposed that 

if any refuse to believe us disputing for the veritie of religion 
established, let them believe God himselfe thus myraculouslie 
working for it, and wish life even for ever and ever unto that 
glorious and sacred instrument whereby he worketh. (14.7; 
344.4-7 and 28-32) 26 

itf. Authorities Quoted and Cited 

Hooker's choices of the authorities whom he quotes and cites 
provide clues to the character of these three books of the Lawes. 
Three-fourths of the explicit references in Books II to IV are to 
authorities of earlier ages whom he recognizes and trusts his readers 
will also acknowledge. The other quarter consists almost entirely of 
references to Puritan works which he wishes to refute. 

Scripture and Traditional Sources 

Authoritative references to Scripture are ubiquitous: they outnum- 
ber by three to one all other citations of authorities. Hooker normally 
translates New Testament texts directly from the Greek, sometimes 
employing it as an exegetical tool. Occasionally, the rendering is so 

25 14.1-2; 336.20-22, 337.19-22, and 338.17-20. 
See Introduction to Book VIII, pp. 346-348, below. 

27 For examples of the Greek serving Hooker's arguments, see nn to 2:228.11- 
14. c and 233. 21-25. i; for other examples of idiosyncratic translations, see 290.22-26 
and 291.19-30 and nn to 234.13-18.fe, 257.19-21.m, 320.10-ll.fe, 320.32.*, and 



free as to suggest that Hooker is working from memory. Although 
he had served as deputy professor of Hebrew at Oxford in 1579, he 
quotes the Old Testament from the Geneva translation; when he does 
use his knowledge of Hebrew, it is not for the Old Testament but for 
an ancient Jewish chronicle. 

In Books II— IV, Hooker includes thirteen classical, two ancient 
Jewish, and sixty-seven patristic references. The relative proportion of 
classical to early Christian writers is the reverse of that in Book I, 
consistent with the narrowing of focus of these three books. With 
the exception of two references to Cicero, Hooker's use of classical 
works graces his argument, rather than providing its substance. From 
Cicero Hooker drew an assertion central to his epistemological con- 
victions: the law of nature cannot be of God unless that light of na- 
ture, human reason, is also from God. Otherwise, his classical ref- 
erences merely provide human examples for the points he is making. 

Hooker drew on his mastery of Hebrew in a reference to a second- 
century Jewish chronicle of events from creation to Hadrian's destruc- 
tion of Jerusalem in 135 AD. Using the chronicle to inform his New 
Testament exegesis, he turns to Josephus, the first-century Jewish 
historian, whose writings were well known to western scholars in the 
original Greek, to illuminate ceremonial standards of first-century 

References to early Christian writers of the first eight centuries 
range from Irenaeus, the second-century Greek-speaking bishop of 
Lyons, to Bede, the eighth-century English monk of Jarrow. The 

28 See l:187.26-27.» and 1:267.32-268. l.a.n. 
29 IV.11.6; l:313.i;. 


See Introductions to The Preface, pp. 65-66, and to Book I, pp. 92-95, above. 
Classical references: Cicero, see n. 31 below; Aristotle, nn to 1:157.4-7. v, 212.20- 
22.w (2 reft.), 220.31-221.1.^, and 246.21-23/; Plato, 212.20-22.u/.n; Velleius 
Paterculus, 1:171. 5-6.r.n; Proclus, 174.1-3.n; Tacitus, 196.i.n; Livy, 275.27-276.2/n, 
and for possible silent use, 341.17-26.n; Homer, 303.7-8.rf.n. For other possible 
classical allusions, see nn to 248.16-22, 275.6-14, and 301.25. 

III. 2.1; see 1:207. 19-20.r.n and 152.20.n; two other possible uses of Cicero are 
noted in 248.16-22.n and 291.32-292.3.n; see Introduction to Book I, pp. 94-95, 

32 See nn to 1:216.9-10 and 313.2-9.1/. 

On Hooker's patristic references, see John K. Louma, "Who Owns the Fathers? 


Books II, III & IV 

collections of conciliar records and of the early ecclesiastical historians 
are represented along with thirty-three other works from twelve Latin 
writers and one each from five Greek authors. Augustine and Tertulli- 
an each claim almost one-quarter of the patristic references, reflecting 
Augustine's enormous influence in the western church both in medi- 
eval centuries and through the Reformation and Tertullian's popularity 
in the sixteenth century. In spite of the latter's heretical Montanism of 
his later years, his writings constituted the first substantial corpus of 
Christian theological essays written in Latin. Many sixteenth-centu- 

Hooker and Cartwright on the Authority of the Primitive Church," and William P. 
Haugaard, "Renaissance Patristic Scholarship," Sixteenth-Century Journal, 8 (1977): 45— 
59 and 10 (1979): 37-60, respectively. 

Patristic references in II-IV are as follows: (citations in brackets were introduced 
into the discussion by Hooker's opponents): Augustine, see nn to 1: 157.18-21. w, 
224.19-21,, 273.18-27, 277.24-26.), 294.17-21, 294.23-29.1/, 294.29- 
32, 329.15-21, 340.30-32./>, [159.7-ll.x, 173.2-5.C, 182.23-33 (2), 182.34-183.11 
(2), 262.6-16.*, and 277.28-278.4]; Tertullian, nn to 162.4-5, 197.8-10.m, 206.2-4.M, 
207.12-13./), 224.30-225.21. u, 244.18-20.fc, 315.13-17.*, 321.1-4.0, 331.26-30.1, 
[159.1 l-15.y, 161.9-10.e, 162/ and 9-13, on De corona from 163.15 to 165.32-35, 
282.19-23.u-, 282.23-25.X, and 295.23-24.*]; Councils from 3rd century African to 
7th century Trullan, nn to 1:200.9-30, 9-lO.a, 10-14;», c, \4-20.d, e, and 20-30, 
201.3/, 317.10-16.£, 321.22-29.j>, [282.13-17.M, 282.17-19.1/, 309.15-18./, and 
316.32-317.5.</, «]; compare 4:38.18.n with l:282.w and 309./; Gregory the Great, nn 
to 1:321.22-29.^, 329.12-15, and [173.5-8.*/]; Irenaeus, nn to 197.12-14.M, 14-16, 
16-20, and 20-23, [172.20-23.y, and 182.2-16]; Jerome, nn to 159.22-23.a, 201.3- 
4/ and [182.16-22]; Leo I, nn to 314.22-27.Z, [172.25-173.1.*, 173.2-fc, 173.19-20, 
and 174.11]; Socrates, nn to 319./ and [309.14-15.Jfc]; Eusebius, nn to [309.8-1 3J and 
319.6-7.;']; Aristeas, 216.4-8.n; Bede, 322.$.3-7.n; Cyprian, 318.27-31. fi.n (160.16- 
161.2. </.n); Pseudo-Dionysius, 275.21-24.e.n; Pseudo-Eusebius of Emesa, 322.^.1- 
3.n; Hilary, 159.23-24.fc.n; Isidore, 322.g.7-8.n; Lactantius, 207.19-20.r.n (for a 
passage from Cicero); Sulpitius Severus, 310. 20-27. n.n; Chrysostom, [172.23— 25. z.n]; 
and Origen, [171. 13-16. w.n]. Eleven possible silent uses of patristic material are noted 
in the Commentary; see nn to 248.16-22 and 321.10-11 (Augustine), 232.1-6 
(Clement of Alexandria and Justin Martyr), 199.29-31 and 238.1-5 (Cyprian), 275.6- 
14 (Isidore of Seville and Sidonius Appolinaris), 201.24-27 (Jerome), 338.2-6 
(Minucius Felix), and 321.18—20 (Sozomen). 

Montanism was a second-century movement, condemned by the main body of 
Christians, claiming to possess new revelations by contemporary prophets and insisting 
on severe discipline and rigorous morality. 



ry reformers placed special value on writings closest to New Testament 
times because of their commitment both to the authority of Scripture 
and to a historiography that presumed a rapid decline of the church 
from its original purity. Hooker also drew on Irenaeus, who was 
similarly valued, although his second-century work was only available 
in Latin translation. Records of the early church councils and referenc- 
es to Gregory the Great, Irenaeus, Jerome, and Leo I all appear in 
these books three or more times. Next to Augustine, Gregory was the 
patristic authority most frequently quoted by western medieval theolo- 
gians. Although Gregory was often disparaged by reformers for his 
advancement of papal prerogatives, Hooker unhesitatingly introduces 
him as an authority in two theological discussions. 

Hooker's use of the church Fathers was both extensive, judicious, 
and, for the age, scholarly, although he was not always as careful as a 
modern scholar might wish. Renaissance humanist scholarship bore 
fruit in Hooker's treatment of patristic texts. At times both Cartwright 
and Whitgift tediously reproduced lists of quotations as if they had 
been lifted en masse from a commonplace book. One of the appeals of 
the Lawes is Hooker's ability to take a chain of Cartwright's citations, 
examine them, and then respond, either by putting them into their 
proper context or by dismissing them outright, trusting the reader's 
good judgment to understand that they did not prove Cartwright's 
case (II.6.4; 1:174.8-14). 

In the most extensive treatment of a patristic text in Books II to IV, 
Hooker responds to Cartwright's citation of Tertullian's De corona to 
validate negative arguments from Scripture (II. 5. 7). Condemning the 
wearing of the pagan garland by Christians, Tertullian insisted that, 
while some might say "it is permitted which is not forbidden," in 
truth, "it is forbidden which is not permitted." Hooker employed 
common-sense textual criticism to rectify a garbled sentence in a 
sixteenth-century text. His use of historical critical methods is yet 
more impressive. After describing the historical context of the inci- 
dent and casting doubts on the objectivity of the author, Hooker then 

35 See nn to 1:160.16-161.2.4 173.2-5.C, and 173.21-25, below. 

See nn from 1:163.15 to 166.18-19; for Hooker as a textual critic, see 164.12- 


Books II, III & IV 

surprises the reader by using the text in question as a clear witness 
against Cartwright. The third-century writer had argued that the 
church strictly kept long-used customs "wherof no lawe of scripture 
maketh mention one way or other." The Tertullian text validated not 
negative, but positive arguments from Scripture: a long-standing church 
custom to abjure garlands was binding "unlesse they could shew some 
higher law . . . of scripture to the contrarie." Appealing beyond the 
text to the larger Tertullian corpus, Hooker concludes that on closer 
examination, Cartwright's very example proves that Tertullian "was of 
a cleane contrarie minde." This is both effective polemical writing and 
scholarly humanist criticism: Hooker sets the historical context of 
author and text, recognizes human dynamics and foibles, and unravels 
the concrete issues, all in graceful nontechnical language. 

Hooker unknowingly quoted one medieval theologian when he 
took the writings of Arnold of Bonneval for those of Cyprian of 
Carthage, but he explicitly cited two other Latin and two Greek 
medieval writers in Books III and IV, calling upon them positively for 
clarification of fact or conviction. The citations show nothing of 
the hesitancy, outright repudiation, or careful qualification with which 
many Reformation theologians approached writings from a period 
they identified with ecclesiastical corruption and deformed theology. 
Hooker makes only three direct references in these books to Thomas 
Aquinas, but just as in Book I, the influence of the theologian whom 
Hooker describes as "the greatest amongst the Schoole divines" is 

Hooker first paints the background in noting Christian disagreement over this 
issue. Dating the work to Tertullian's Montanist period and suggesting that the sect's 
rigorism underlay the moral judgment, he notes, with an unstated glance at Puritans, 
that in the "heate of distempered affection," speech may reveal "more egernes then 
waight." He judges Tertullian's reasoning on the appropriateness of flowers worn on 
the head to be an outright "imbecillitie." See Haugaard, "Renaissance Patristic 
Scholarship," pp. 58-59. 

Medieval references: Thomas Aquinas, see notes 39—41, below; Arnold of 
Bonneval, see 1:160.16-161. 2. d.n, and Introduction to Book V, pp. 217-218, below; 
Gratian, see nn to 235. 17-18. m and 241.9-1 1.x, below; Nicephorus Callistus, see 
31 0.20-27. n.n; Constantinus Hermenopulos, see 325.9— 13. w.n; for a possible silent use 
of Bracton, see 275.2— 3.n. 



more pervasive than the number of citations might suggest. The 
explicit references, all in Book III, draw from Aquinas's discussions of 
foundations of ecclesiology and law, topics central to the Lawes. 
Aquinas's theology is also reflected on occasions when Hooker does 
not explicitly invoke his authority. 

Engagement with Contemporary Writers 

Of the one quarter of Hooker's references that engage sixteenth- 
century writers, only 5% explicitly cite continental Reformers or 
supporters of the Elizabethan settlement. Even in the most abstruse 
theological passages of the Lawes, Hooker's range of vision always 
included the opponents whose movement and writings had provoked 
him to embark on this "carefull endevour." An overview of the 
ninety-six citations to advanced Protestant writings can help us to 
understand his theological method in Books II— IV. Puritan opponents 
are omnipresent. On the average, one such citation appears on every 
two pages of the present edition. Hooker did not, however, allow 
the Puritan framing of arguments and accusations to determine the 
structure of his essay. He himself determined what he regarded to be 
the crucial issues, selecting from among their writings appropriate foils 
for his exposition. 

In Books II and IV Hooker limits such citations entirely to Cart- 
wright's responses to Whitgift and to Travers's programmatic challenge 
to the Elizabethan settlement. In Book III three other disciplinarian 
authors are also cited: John Udall, Dudley Fenner, and the pseudony- 
mous Martin Marprelate. Hooker may have judged these as providing 

39 III.9.2 (1:236.25-24); and see Introduction to Book I, p. 92, above. 

40 For these references, see nn at 1: 195.32-1 96.3.e, 236.27-237.6.0, and 237.24- 
21. p. On Hooker's use of this material, see pp. 172—173, below. 

41 For such places, see nn at 1:155.33-156.2, 223.28-29, 230.2, 232.25-33, 
232.33-233.9, 233.15-18, 236.27-237.6.0, 237.8-9, 240.14-32, 242.9-13, 242.29- 
243.6, and 249.19-251.10; for other mentions of Thomas in the Commentary, see nn 
at 145.14.d, 195.28-32, and 273.18-27. 

In addition to the 96 direct citations, the commentary notes 53 additional 
references to advanced Protestant writings which cast light on Hooker's text. 
See above, Introduction to The Preface, pp. 72-77. 


Books II, III & IV 

starker statements of his opponents' positions as he understood them. 
Only here and in the Preface does Hooker refer to what in Book V 
he termed "the scurrilous and more then Satyricall immodestie of 
Martinisme" Ped.7; 2:5.17-18). 

Of the ninety-six, seventy-eight are to Cartwright's three replies to 
Whitgift, and one other identifies the 1572 Admonition to Parliament 
that had evoked Whitgift's initial Answere. Topical outlines of the 
volumes of each writer (two of Whitgift, three of Cartwright) reflect 
the structure of the Admonition, and each responded point by point to 
the other's arguments. In contrast, in Books II-IV, Hooker cited 
only 4% of the pages in Cartwright's three volumes, and these pages 
are bunched in scattered sections of the disciplinarian arguments. 
Even when one takes into account the remaining four books on "the 
specialities" in which Hooker was to consider other parts of Cart- 
wright's writings, it is evident that Hooker simply discarded the pole- 
mical pattern of his predecesors. 

It has been argued that Hooker's polemic in the Lawes "from its 
outset was directed" to the Seconde Replie, which Whitgift had left 

See Introduction to The Preface, pp. 71-72, above. The Admonition reference, 
without a marginal note, is a paraphrase whose original Hooker attributed to the 
"Admonitioners" (III. 7. 4; 1:218.35-219.3). He may intend the reference also to 
include A Second Admonition to the Parliament, an anonymous Puritan pamphlet of the 
same year (1572; STC 4713); see 214.15-21.x.n and 218.35-219.3.n. Over half the 
citations to Cartwright (46) are in Book IV; 19 are in II and 13 in III. The three 
occasional disciplinarians cited in Book III: Udall (nn to 1:247.8-248.6.^ and 248.9— 
11./); Fenner (nn to 212.t/.l-3, 241.26-242.9.Z, and 266.31-267.9); and Marprelate 
(247. 8-248. 6.g.n). For possible silent references, see nn to 243.12-24, 245.16-17, 
256.9-20/, and 265.18-25. 

For the Whitgirt-Cartwright debate, see Introduction to The Preface, n. 152, 
above. Hooker's patron John Jewel had carried on two similar series of debates with 
the Roman Catholic Thomas Harding; see 1:171.1 .n and 171.2—4.n. 

46 In Replye of 224 pages, Hooker cites: pp. 10, 25-27, 30-32, 35, 71-73, 89, 
131—133, 165, 170, and 216; the Commentary notes six other pages relevant to 
Hooker's discussion: 48, 84, 177, 191, 192, and 196. In Seconde Replie of 666 pages, 
Hooker cites: pp. 1, 5, 19-21, 29, 48, 50, 55-56, 58-61, 80-81, 440, 446, and the 
Table; the Commentary notes two other pages: 20 and 55. In The Rest of the Second 
Replie of 265 pages Hooker cites: pp. 171, 174, 176-183, 241, and the Table; the 
Commentary notes one other page: 73. 



unanswered. Can the Lawes be considered an extrapolated renewal 
of the Cartwright-Whitgift debate after a hiatus of a decade and a half? 
In a general sense, of course, Hooker was Whitgift's successor: in his 
dedication of Book V to Whitgift he declared that he had been led 
"by your Graces example" (§ 2; 2:2.25). However, the theory that 
Cartwright's Seconde Replie was Hooker's specific target is supported 
neither by the text of the Lawes nor by the circumstantial evidence of 
the controversy. In the last decade of the century, advanced Protestants 
were socially and politically powerful, and the disciplinarian move- 
ment, approved even when not fully endorsed by many within that 
broad spectrum, challenged the foundations of the Elizabethan reli- 
gious settlement. From the first page of the Lawes that movement was 
Hooker's explicit target. If he set out principally to respond to Cart- 
wright's Seconde Replie and to The Rest of the Second Replie, we would 
expect that he would have cited a larger proportion of these later 
volumes than of Cartwright's initial Replye. Hooker cited 8.9% of the 
pages of Replye but only 2.6% of the pages of Seconde Replie and 4.5% 
of the pages of The Reste of the Second Replie; thus he gave more 
attention to the same text that Whitgift had already answered in his 
Defense than to Cartwright's subsequent responses. 

Hooker began his public role as a defender of the Elizabethan 
settlement at the Temple in 1585 in the struggle with Walter Travers, 
his kinsman by marriage. Eleven years earlier Travers had published 
his first and most important book: Ecclesiasticae disciplinae, et Anglicanae 
Ecclesiae ab ilia aberrationis plena e verbo Dei, & dilucida explicatio, and 
Cartwright had translated it. This critique of the polity of the English 

Rudolph Almasy, "The Purpose of Richard Hooker's Polemic," Journal of the 
History of Ideas, 29 (1978): 270. In spite of this too narrow interpretation of Hooker's 
polemical intentions, Almasy's discussion effectively demonstrates the extent of 
Hooker's use of Cartwright, detailing the ways in which Hooker in Book II em- 
ployed, extended, and occasionally corrected Whitgift's arguments. 

See Introduction to The Preface, pp. 51-55, above, and 5:264—269 (this edn.). 

Although the title page of the Explicatio designates "La Rochelle" as the place 
of printing, it was printed by Michael Shirat in Heidelberg; see S. J. Knox, Walter 
Travers (1962), pp. 29-31. The translation is entitled A full and plaine declaration of 
ecclesiasticall discipline owt off the word off God and off the declininge off the churche off 
England from the same ([Heidelberg, 1574], STC 1574), and came from the same press. 


Books II, III & IV 

Church has been described by Collinson as the "first definitive treat- 
ment of presbyterian government" at the parochial level. 

Although Hooker does not cite Travers's work in the Lawes until 
Book III, he refers to the Explicatio in eleven references in Books III 
and IV. Although Hooker cites Cartwright's trilogy seven times 
more often than he does Travers's single volume, he cites 4.4% of 
Travers's pages, comparable to the 4.2% of the pages of Cartwright 
cited, thus treating Travers with a scholarly respect equal to that 
accorded Cartwright. 

Taken together, then, Cartwright and Travers account for over 90% 
of the citations of advanced Protestant writings in Books II— IV. 
Neither appears in Book I, and, in the Preface, Cartwright provides 
only a quarter, and Travers, none of the Puritan citations. George 
Cranmer referred four times to Cartwright's writings in his critique of 
Book VI and once in his letter. In Edwin Sandys's critique of VI, 
he urged Hooker to "set down Mr Cartwrights and W. T. woords at 
large in the margent" (3:137.21). Although the replies of Cartwright 
and the Explicatio of Travers were fifteen to twenty years old by the 
time of the publication of the first volume of the Lawes, Cranmer and 

50 E.P.M., pp. 107-108. 

51 See 1:218.31-35, 246.e, 248.28-30.;, 265.1 l-12.y, 276.6-12.,?, .19-29./t, and 
.26.1, 280.7.0, 286.6-8.C, 305.2-5/, and 309.1.1. The Commentary suggests another 
eleven texts from the Explicatio that may underlie Hooker's discussions; see nn at 
212.4-10, 214.15-21.*, 247.8-248.6.^, 247.21-25, 248.9-ll.«, 256.9-20/, 258.7- 
14.«, 265.17-18, 265.18-25, 265.27-266.1, and 281.29-282.12. Consistently using 
the Latin original, Hooker renders it in English himself rather than using Cartwright's 
translation; see 276.6-1 2.g.n. 

2 Cartwright's three volumes total 1,155 pages. Travers's Explicatio has 147 folios 
or 294 pages. Of the latter, Hooker cites: fols. 4, 5, 8, 12, 51, 52, 94, 95, 97, 98, 100, 
and the table; in one explicit mention of the Explicatio (IV.2.1; l:276.i), where 
Hooker gave no folio number, one of a number of pages might have been cited (see 

Cartwright is cited only four times and Travers not at all among fifteen explicit 
references; see Introduction to The Preface, n. 151, above. 

54 See 3:121.27, 125.16./, 127.27./, 129.15 and § 2 of the letter, l:36.15-53.15.n, 
below. In addition to Cartwright, Cranmer referred to Laurence Chaderton's 1580 
sermon, a staple of "disciplinarian" polemic (3:124.1). See Introduction to The 
Preface, pp. 41—45, above. 



Sandys assumed, as did Hooker himself, that these constituted the most 
authoritative of disciplinarian writings. Hooker and his consulting 
critics targeted no individual Puritan author. Throughout the Lawes 
proper, Hooker consistently wrote of "they" and "them," just as he 
addressed his Preface in the second person collectively to "you whose 
judgement is a lantame of direction" to the disciplinarian community 
(Pref. 4.1; 1:21.12). His target was the movement as a whole, and 
among those who actively worked for it, Travers and Cartwright were 
in the forefront of the theologically learned. 

Cranmer and Sandys had both expressed a concern in their critique 
of Book VI that Hooker quote his opponents accurately. On the 
whole, Hooker took to heart his critics' injunctions. He took occa- 
sional liberties in reproducing details to put such writings in better 
form for the context of his discussions, and he selected those passages 
that seemed to him to be "as seedes from whence the rest that ensue 
have growne" (II. 1.2; 1:145.2-3), but neither procedure seriously 
distorted the authors' intentions for them. 

Hooker does not volunteer references to writings of other support- 
ers of the Elizabethan settlement. Only the works of Jewel, whom 
Hooker describes as "the worthiest Divine that Christendome hath 
bred for the space of some hundreds of yeres" (II. 6. 4; 171.2-3), are 

Sandys seemed to have been satisfied with Hooker's documentation of his 
opponents in the 1593 printed volume, for after the words quoted above in this 
section on setting down words "in the margent," Sandys wrote: "Els will your 
discourse want much credit of sinceritie: which in your former it hath especially by 
that meanes" (3:137.22-25). But Cranmer, with Sandys's mark indicating his agree- 
ment with the statement, had written: "I could wishe that through all the bookes you 
should be carefull of the quotations both of their sentences and of other auctorityes 
alleaged (for in the former bookes you knowe there is a defect that way)" (3:129.4-7). 
The seeming contradiction is resolved if the chronological relationships between the 
two critiques of Book VI are as proposed above: namely, that defects in documen- 
tation pointed out by Cranmer in earlier drafts of the Preface and Books I-IV were 
corrected before publication; see Introduction to The Preface, p. 51, above. For 
other such comments of Cranmer, see 3:108.35, 114.24-30, 115.14-15 and 24, 
121.17-29, and 125.16-29; for Sandys's, see 3:134.32-33, 1:36.34-36, 137.20-24, and 
139.4-6 and 22-26. 

S6 See nn at 1:150.20-23, 153.10-H.o, 155.8-11, and 282.1 2-283. l.u. 


Books II, III & IV 

cited in Books II and IV, and in both cases, it was Cartwright who 
had brought Jewel in as a witness against Whitgift. For some years 
after the Admonition, as Cranmer remarked in his letter to Hooker, 
only Whitgift had "stood in the gap" to support the establishment (see 
1:36.15— 53.1 5.n, § 1), but by the mid-1 580s other writers had begun 
to contribute. In spite of the fact that Hooker did not cite them, 
parallels on occasion suggest silent borrowings, and although Whit- 
gift's own name is absent from the marginal documentation of Books 
II— IV, his role in the exchanges with Cartwright is implied in Hook- 
er's frequent references to Cartwright's three volumes. The closest he 
comes to naming Whitgift in the debate was in a passive circumlocu- 
tion such as "beeing asked to what . . . and why, . . . their aunswere is 
. . ." (IV.13.1; 1:327.28-328.2). And although Hooker's books cannot 
be adequately characterized as a conclusion to the Cartwright- Whitgift 
debate in which Cartwright had had the most recent say, Whitgift's 
two books, to which Cartwright had responded in such detail, supply 
an indispensable context for the Lawes. 

iv. Epistemology: Hermeneutics and Authority 

Both Hooker and his adversaries agreed that the Bible was authori- 
tative for Christian life and teaching, but these three books of the 
Lawes show that Hooker identified previously unexamined herme- 
neutical principles as themselves fundamental "generalities of the cause 
in question" (1:345.5). Hooker consistently drew on Scripture 
throughout the treatise, and his biblical references in Books II— IV 
provide evidence of his understanding of scriptural authority and its 

57 See nn to l:212.i/.l-3 and 266.31-267.9 (John Bridges); 258.7-14.W (Richard 
Bancroft), 1 60.8-161. 8.<: (Matthew Sutcliffe?); 264.9-15, 268.6-13, and 341.17-342.7 
(Hadrian Saravia); 251.14-20.1/, 256.9-20;/; 260.3-7, and 326.6-16 (Whitgift). In 
none of these latter did Hooker treat Cartwright's later responses to Whitgift in Second 
Replie; rather, he focused on the text of the initial Replye, providing answers substan- 
tially like those of Whitgift. 

See pp. 126-127, above. On Hooker's understanding of scriptural authority, see 
Egil Grislis, "The Hermeneutical Problem in Hooker," S.R.H. (1972), pp. 159-206; 
John S. Coolidge, The Pauline Renaissance in England (1970), chap. 1; and Peter Lake, 
Anglicans and Puritans? (1988), esp. pp. 144-160. 



relation to human reason and church tradition. The distinctive origi- 
nality of these understandings stand out when compared with those of 
his opponents and precursors in the debate. 

Biblical Hermeneutics in the Renaissance 

Hooker takes the biblical texts with as much seriousness as do his 
opponents, but he employs distinctive hermeneutical techniques in his 
exegesis of them. Renaissance humanism, together with the Gutenberg 
revolution, provided newly crafted philological tools which made the 
sixteenth-century Reformation possible. A concern for the original 
languages, grammar, textual accuracy, and the recognition of the 
historical contexts of ancient texts all contributed to new biblical 
understandings. As heir to these tools, Hooker employed them so as to 
deploy his scriptural citations as substantive rather than decorative 
references, contributing directly to the course of the argument even if 
they are not, as in some cases, the focus of the argument itself Re- 
garding one central humanist principle of interpretation, Hooker later 
remarked, "I holde it for a most infallible rule in expositions of sacred 
scripture, that where a litterall construction will stand, the farthest 
from the letter is commonlie the worst" (V.59.2; 2:252.5-7). But 
Hooker's hermeneutical debt to Renaissance humanism went further. 
He brought two distinctively humanist perspectives to bear on biblical 
interpretations, integrating them into his Thomist-Aristotelian philo- 
sophical and theological framework: (1) a sense of the continuity of 
the sacred history of revelation with the larger human scene to which 
it belonged, and (2) a complementary sense of movement in secular 
history, in which changing times and circumstances alter the ways in 
which the authority of Scripture is to be invoked and applied. These 
two perspectives were not entirely absent from the writings of other 
scriptural commentators of the era, but Hooker applies them with a 
consistency that distinguishes his hermeneutics and, arguably, foreshad- 
ows biblical critical methods of the future. 

Hooker's epistemology is based on an understanding of the com- 
plementary character of grace and nature, revelation and reason. 
Declaring, in the theological tradition of Thomas Aquinas, that "nature 
hath need of grace . . . [and] grace hath use of nature" (III. 8.6; 1:223. 


Books II, III & IV 

28—29), Hooker assumes the complementarity of the book of Scrip- 
ture and the book of nature: he moves easily from one to the other, 
he describes their interpenetration, and he uses similar criteria for 
discussing them. To show how "nature hath need of grace," Hooker 
took an example from Acts in which Festus, "a meere naturall man," 
was unable to perceive God's saving act in Jesus Christ that Paul, by 
"Gods good grace," declared to him (1:223.14—26). Placing sacred and 
secular history side by side, Hooker pairs Paul and Tacitus as common 
witnesses to the world's "execrable" estimation of the name "Chris- 
tian," and Peter and Josephus as symmetrical witnesses to Jewish 
fasting customs (III. 1.4 and 6.1; 196. i and 216.8-11). 

Over and above the supernatural laws, unique to Scripture, that 
make salvation possible, Hooker insists that the Bible also contains 
both natural and human laws (1.12 and 15). Even though by their very 
presence in the Bible they are acknowledged as God's laws by revela- 
tion, the conditions under which they operate and the situations to 
which they apply are subject to the same considerations and limitations 
as are natural laws derived through the processes of reason and human 
laws determined by those who legislate them. This continuity of 
human laws and life, in and out of the Bible, enabled Hooker, as he 
interpreted Scripture, to take fuller account of the human dimension 
of the text than did most of his contemporaries. Unlike modern 
scholarly students of biblical texts, Hooker could speak of scriptural 
texts that literally contain "manifest testimony cited from the mouth 
of God himself"; at the same time, in common with such scholars, he 
recognized the human limitations inherent in many of those texts 
(II.7.5; 180.25-26). 

In response to what he perceived as a willingness to use reason "to 
disgrace reason," Hooker employs Scripture to demonstrate the lim- 
itations of Scripture, drawing from the Bible itself examples to counter 
the claim that reason is unable "to search out and to judge of things 
divine" (III.8.4 and 6; 221.27-28 and 223.9-10). In Jesus's call to the 
Jews to believe because of his works and in Thomas's demand to see 
and feel Jesus's nail-prints, Hooker found evidence to demonstrate 

See Introduction to Book I, p. 92, above. 



"that there may be a certaine beliefe grounded upon other assurance 
then Scripture" (II.4.1; 152.5-12). If it were true, as disciplinarians 
claimed, that "all thinges must be commaunded of God [by written 
scriptures] which may be practised of his Church," then, Hooker 
asked, where had the Jews of the Old Testament found justification 
for established ceremonies that were described by texts in Joshua, 
Judges, and the fourth Gospel (HI. 11. 15; 262.16-28)? 

Hooker demonstrates the interlocking character of revelation and 
natural human faculties when he observes that "of things necessarie the 
verie chiefest is to knowe what bookes wee are bound to esteeme 
holie, which poynt is confest impossible for the scripture it selfe to 
teach." Reformed theologians taught that the Bible, through the 
operation of the Holy Spirit in the believer, is self-authenticating. 61 
Hooker accepts statements of such "grave and learned" theologians 
about the need for "the testimony of the spirit," but he reinterprets 
them to mean that "the special grace of the holy ghost" must concur 
with "other motives . . . consonant unto reason" to create faith. Rea- 
son remains the test by which the very operation of the spirit may be 

Albeit the spirit lead us into all truth and direct us in all goodnes, 
yet bicause these workings of the spirit in us are so privy and 
secret, we therfore stand on a plainer ground, when we gather by 
reason from the qualitie of things beleeved or done, that the 
spirit of God hath directed us in both. (III. 8. 15; 232.16-25, 

Not only is reason necessary in order to determine that the Bible is 
indeed God's revelation, but "betweene true and false construction" 

1.14.1 (1:125.11—13); for Hooker's development of this observation, see II. 4. 2, 
7.3, 111.12-15 (1:153.13-25, 177.27-34, 230.7-233.9), and p. 165, below. 

"They whom the holy ghost hath inwardly taught, doe wholy reste uppon the 
Scripture, and . . . that same Scripture is to be credited for it self sake, and ought not 
to be made subject to demonstration and reasons; but yet that the certaintie which it 
getteth among us, it atteineth by the witnesse of the holy ghost"; Calvin, Institutes, 
1.7.5; STC 4415, fol. 15 r . See pp. 136-137 and Introduction to The Preface, pp. 77- 
79, above. 


Books II, III & IV 

of the scriptural text "the difference reason must shew." The "use of 
naturall reasoning about the sense of holy scripture" provides the only 
means of interpreting the Bible (III. 8. 16; 233.20 and 15—16). In 
contrast with the issue of self-authentication of the Bible, Hooker's 
opponents would have agreed with him concerning the necessity of 
human reason in biblical interpretation, once the authority of the text 
had been accepted. Yet his explicit insistence upon the role of reason 
in the operation of the Holy Spirit reflected an epistemological con- 
cern to assert both the legitimacy of reason alongside revelation and 
their interlocking continuity as dual sources of knowledge of "things 

Hooker produces his evidence from the Bible itself. He describes 
from Acts instances of the Apostles' reasoning on the text of the 
Psalms, of Paul and Barnabas using reason to win the unconverted, 
and of Peter's arguing in the Council of Jerusalem on matters of 
church policy. He points to the demand in 1 Peter that Christians 
render a reason for their faith and to "our Lord and Saviour him 
selfe," who reasoned in disputation with the crowd. Although the 
complementarity of reason and revelation was a heritage from medi- 
eval scholasticism, sixteenth-century humanism provided the perspec- 
tive within which Hooker continually evoked the literary character of 
the sacred text. 

History: An Interpretative Tool 

The other distinctive element of Hooker's hermeneutics was more 
exclusively a gift of the Renaissance: historical contextualization. In 
recent years students of Hooker have recognized the importance of his 
grasp of history, a heritage of earlier Renaissance scholars. What has 
not been sufficiently recognized is the hermeneutical importance of his 
application of that perspective not only to the church since New Tes- 
tament times but to the communities of the Old and New Testament 
themselves. The Lawes insists that the polity of the apostolic church is 

62 III.8.16-17; 1:233.10-15, 234.9-18 and 18-25; 233.21-25 and 234.2-7. 

See Arthur B. Ferguson, "The Historical Perspective of Richard Hooker: 
Renaissance Paradox," Journal of Medieval and Renaissance Studies, 3 (1973): 17-49. 



not necessarily appropriate for all ages, but Hooker's use of the histor- 
ical perspective undergirding that claim extends far beyond that partic- 
ular point. 

Considering places of worship among the ancient Jews, Hooker 
imagines them under bondage in Egypt worshipping in "some corner 
of a poore cottage . . . peradventure covered in dust and strawe"; he 
compares this with the tabernacle of the desert and the later Jerusalem 
temple, as well "framed sutable to the greatnes and dignitie of later, as 
when they keepe the reverend simplicity of auncienter tymes" (IV.2.4; 
1:279.13—14, 19, and 32—33). Hooker insists that when God gave 
through Moses the detailed judicial laws of much of the Pentateuch to 
Israel, "in framing their Lawes [God] had an eye unto the nature of 
that people, and to the countrey where they were to dwell" (III. 11.6; 
251.2—3). Convinced, as was his age, of the literal character of the 
scriptural account of God's direct dealings with ancient Israel, Hooker 
introduced historical contextualization into his interpretation of their 
laws and societal life, so that even laws that were divinely mandated 
both reflected and were subject to the particular conditions of the age 
in which God promulgated and Israel observed them. 

Both parties to the debate were agreed that for Christians, Old 
Testament moral laws continued in force and that ceremonial laws 
were abrogated, but that its judicial laws ought to be maintained only 
if "the ende for which [they were] made, and . . . the aptnes of thinges 
therein prescribed" continued in effect (III. 10.1; 239.32-240.2). 64 
But Hooker's greater emphasis upon the judgment of "aptnes," his 
attention to the historical human conditions of biblical societies, and 
his flexibility in applying the ancient ordinances to his own era led to 

i 65 

a new interpretive tool. 

The hermeneutical difference between Hooker and Whitgift pro- 
vides a glimpse into Hooker's distinctive approach to Scripture. Both 
Whitgift and Cartwright would have agreed with his statement in 
Book II that God's scriptural "testimonies . . . are alwaies truth and 
most infallible certaintie" (II.6.1; 167.29-168.1). But, although Cart- 

See the quotation from Cartwright in III. 11. 13 (l:260.r). 
See l:242.29-243.6.n and 252.1 8-26. x.n. 


Books II, III & IV 

wright and Whitgift disallowed the authority of some texts of the Old 
Testament in the light of the radical changes that the coming of Jesus 
Christ had introduced, both took other texts at face value as they 
applied them, whether to contemporary situations or to those de- 
scribed in other biblical passages. Hooker introduced a seminal herme- 
neutical tool, uniting teleological principle with historical perspective, 
when he insisted that "the words of [God's] mouth are absolute . . .for 
performance of that thing whereunto they tend" (168.3—5; italics added). 
The principle on the sufficiency of Scripture "unto the end for which it 
was instituted (1.14; 1:124.27-28) was not only to be applied to those 
things necessary for salvation; in Hooker's hands, it became an exegeti- 
cal tool to be applied throughout the Lawes. Cartwright, Whitgift, 
and Hooker all could agree that "certain things" in church life might 
vary according to "times, places, persons, and other the like circum- 
stances" (III. 10.7; 1:245.9). 67 Only Hooker took this principle of 
historical contextualization and, attempting to identify "purpose" 
within the particular human situation, applied it not only to church 
life subsequent to the New Testament but to the exegesis of biblical 
passages themselves. 

Hooker differed from Whitgift not only by making scriptural 
authority the central issue, he also addressed some of the same passages 
of Cartwright differently. To support his insistence on negative argu- 
ments from Scripture, Cartwright noted that Jeremiah condemned 
child sacrifice because God had "not spoken" of it (II.6.1— 2; 1:166.33— 
167.1 and 168.12-169.4). Both Whitgift and Hooker judged Cartwright 
wrong to think this example supported the general force of negative 
arguments from Scripture although they recognized that Jeremiah's 
negative argument in this case was obviously strong. However, the two 
ascribed quite different reasons for Jeremiah's use of the argument: 
Whitgift, because child sacrifice was specifically forbidden by earlier 
scriptural commands and because it involved murder, a "matter of 

In Book I, Hooker considers the larger purpose of Scripture for salvation; in 
later books, he applies the same principle to the exegesis of particular passages within 
their historical contexts. 

67 Cartwright, Replye, pp. 15 and 17 (PS, 1:195 and 223); Whitgift, summarizing 
Calvin, Answere, p. 28-29 (PS, 1:247); see 1:281. 17-22.n. 



substance"; Hooker, because child sacrifice did not fulfill the specific 
directions that God had laid down for Jewish sacrificial worship. 
Unlike his predecessor, Hooker interpreted the text not by applying a 
universal moral principle valid in any historical epoch but by attempting 
to take account of the particular circumstances of ancient Israel. 

Another example of their difference appears in this same chapter of 
Book II. Continuing to insist on the general force of a negative 
argument from Scripture, Cartwright quoted Isaiah's condemnation of 
Jews who had not sought "counsell at the mouth of the horde" but had, 
on their own, attempted to make an alliance with Egypt. Whitgift 
denied that it applied: Isaiah condemned the nation, not on general 
principle, but because, in a verse of Deuteronomy, God had said the 
Jews must not return to Egypt. When Hooker reproduced Cart- 
wright's text at the beginning of the chapter, he added Whitgift's 
citation of Deuteronomy (II. 6; 167.2-7). In his discussion of the issue, 
however, he not only omitted any reference to Deuteronomy; he ex- 
pressly stated that the Jews merited Isaiah's rebuke even though they 
had received "no charge precisely geven them that they should al- 
wayes take heed of Egypt" (H.6.3; 169.9-17 and 170.7-13). 70 The 
Deuteronomic command was appropriate to the human context when 
God gave it, and it could not be literally applied, as Whitgift had 
done, to the later times of Isaiah. Hooker judged that its time and 
circumstances determined — and limited — its general applicability. Since 
the absolute truth of divine revelation was itself subject to the limita- 
tions of the creaturely circumstances in which it was embedded, the 
exegete must take these into account in applying scriptural texts to 

68 See l:168.5-8.n and 168.12-169.4.n. 

69 Defense, pp. 77-78 (PS, 1:177 and 179-180). See l:170.7-13.n. Whitgift 
suggests also that the Jews had made a contrary promise. 

70 See nn to 1:167.6-7, 169.4-170.32, and 170.7-13. Hooker regarded Cart- 
wright's example from Isaiah inappropriate as proof of the "general" authority of 
negative arguments from scripture because he judged that Isaiah's condemnation was 
merited; although the Jews had no applicable written scripture, they did, at that time, 
have prophets through whom they might have asked and received advice "from the 
mouth of God himselfe" (1:170.8). 


Books II, III & IV 

situations which might differ from those in the biblical passage in 
which they occur. 

"Difference of times, places, persons, and other the like circum- 
stances" (III. 11. 13; 261.10-11), joined with the complementarity of 
reason and revelation, define the hermeneutics of Hooker's reading of 
Scripture, for Hooker admires 

the wisedome of God, which shineth in the bewtifull varietie of 
all things, but most in the manifold and yet harmonious dissimili- 
tude of those wayes, whereby his Church upon earth is guided 
from age to age, throughout all generations of men. (III. 11.8; 

Authority of Scripture 

All students would agree that the Lawes represents a milestone 
among English theological writings and that Hooker presented the case 
for the Elizabethan religious settlement more effectively than had 
anyone before him. The question of theological originality is another 
matter. Did Hooker, using time-honored understandings bequeathed 
to him, shape them into genuinely new theological perspectives? As 
Hooker himself recognized by choosing the disciplinarian principles to 
be debated in the Lawes, the authority of Scripture and its relations 
with reason and tradition constituted a major theological issue of his 
age. Hooker entered a debate already under way; only a comparison 
of his arguments with those of his opponents and allies can identify the 
novelty of his perspective. 

Theological combatants rarely represent the positions of their 
opponents either fairly or accurately. Cargill Thompson has suggested 

Coolidge, whose treatment of Hooker was primarily a foil to his interest in the 
Puritan understanding of the Bible, judged that Hooker "masterfully argued" the 
fundamental case for conformity on the issue of the relation of Scripture and reason, 
a case which " Whitgift can be said to have discovered"; see Pauline Renaissance, p. 8. 
Lake, in contrast, claims that Hooker self-consciously developed a "view of the 
relations between reason and scripture very different from that which passed for 
orthodox among most Elizabethan protestants," leading him to name Hooker "the 
inventor of 'anglican' ideology"; see Anglicans and Puritans?, pp. 153 and 230. 



that Hooker "deliberately went out of his way to exaggerate the 
degree of authority which the Puritans attributed to the Bible," the 
principal topic of Books II and III. Demonstrating that Cartwright 
himself qualified his statements on biblical authority, Cargill Thomp- 
son points out that the real issue of the debate between Whitgift and 
Cartright over scriptural authority and the very section of Cartwright 
from which Hooker extracted his quotations really concerned the 


extent of scriptural authority only "in matters of religion." In fact, 
they only concerned matters of church discipline and order. A more 
basic question, however, remains: to what extent did Hooker's highly 
selective use of Cartwright's writings accurately uncover the underly- 
ing "foundation and root" of the disciplinarian position? 

At the beginning of Book II Hooker seizes on the statement that 
Scripture's rule over "all thinges" in human life extends "even so farre 
as to the taking up of a rush or strawe." Cartwright in his Replye had 
interpreted Paul's statement that whatever is not of faith is sin (Rom. 
14:23) to mean that since in both "publyke and private" actions one 
ought to follow God's word, in "matters of the church . . . there may 
be nothing done but by the word of God." In his Defense, Whitgift 
took this exegesis of Paul, which Cartwright had mentioned in a 
subordinate clause, and he made an issue of it apart from Cartwright's 
main thrust about "matters of the church." Using a morally indifferent 
example that Thomas had employed, Whitgift introduced the straw, 
linking it with the observance of "civill orders" and other "particular 
actions," to provide a reductio ad absurdum argument. Cartwright took 
up the gauntlet, insisting in the Second Replie that even such apparently 
free acts must be "grounded" in the Bible by either "generall or 
especiall wordes"; thus Paul's words "reacheth even to his case off 
taking upp a straw." Neither the common-sense qualifications that 
can be found in Cartwright's writings nor the actual practice of 
advanced Protestants agreed with the implications of this theoretical 

2 W. D. J. Cargill Thompson, "The Philosopher of the 'Politic Society,' " 
S.R.H., p. 24; rpr. Studies in the Reformation, p. 151; see also Coolidge, Pauline 
Renaissance, pp. 1—22. 

73 II.1.2; 1:145.13-14; see pp. 129-130, above. 

74 See Replye (2nd edn.), p. 27, and nn to 1:145.14, 154.2, and 190.16-191.14. 


Books II, III & IV 

formulation. Yet once Whitgift staked out the narrowed ground, 
Cartwright chose to defend it. If Hooker's readers noted the inconsis- 
tency between such a statement and its qualified interpretation and 
Puritan practice, so much the better for his case. Hooker aimed at 
what he judged to be the weakness of disciplinarian foundations, and 
Cartwright had provided an unambiguous target. 

When Hooker makes this issue the topic of Book II of the Lawes, 
the dispute moves outside the orbit of the Whitgift-Cartwright debate 
even though the words of Whitgift had suggested the issue. No longer 
an incidental exchange in the midst of a plethora of other issues, the 
question of the authority of the Bible becomes a major theme. Hooker 
recognizes that he is entering on new territory, for he judges that the 
issue has not been raised "any where in other Churches" (II. 1.2; 
1:145.4-5). He also notes that, although scriptural authority for actions 
rather than for doctrine were under discussion in Book II, the exam- 
ples he takes from Cartwright's writings concern "opinion" as much 
as "action" (5.2; 158:11—25). Larger epistemological issues underlie his 
differences with his disciplinarian opponents. 

Although the disciplinarian minority was clearly the explicit target 
of the Lawes, Hooker's polemical scythe cut a wider swath in the fields 
of English Puritans. Sola scriptura had been the battle cry with which 
Reformers had challenged the recognized authorities of the western 
church. Among the magisterial reforming movements, Luther firmly 
resisted — and Reformed theologians only partially acquiesced in — the 
consequent tendency to make the Bible omnicompetent in its ability 
to prescribe human behavior. As English advanced Protestants, whose 
spirituality was nurtured by scriptural texts, struggled to impose their 
vision of godliness on English society, scriptural omnicompetence 
became an unexamined assumption undergirding their attacks on the 
establishment. When Hooker explored the roots of the issue, he 
provoked a reaction that was to simmer for many years. No wonder 

75 Coolidge judged that the position of Hooker, and of Whitgift as well, was 
logically unassailable since they and the Puritans shared "the same logical and epistem- 
ological presuppositions" but that this really missed the point since the Puritan 
preoccupation with obedience to God's word was "something more than a rational 
adjustment of man's behaviour to God's truth" {Pauline Renaissance, p. 11). 

The later currents include the seventeenth-century Puritan struggles which, 



that the first reply to the Lawes came, not from the disciplinarians, but 
from advanced Protestants, self-described as among the "unfayned 
favourers of the present state" of the English church. Hooker's careful 
distinctions about the purposes and contexts of particular scriptural 
passages appeared as so many "sophisticall elenches, and impertinent 
outleapes [refutations and hyperboles]," and the author(s) of A Chris- 
tian Letter suspected "the underpropping of a popish principle concern- 
ing the churches authoritie above the holy Scripture." Not avowed 
disciplinarian (s), the conforming author(s) of A Christian Letter con- 
cluded that Hooker's form of argument had made "a wide open 


breach in the church" and had stained "the pure doctrine of faith." 
The repudiation of biblical omnicompetence was not only a principal 
weapon in Hooker's polemical arsenal, but a theological principle by 
which he questioned the epistemological foundations of a wide spec- 
trum of English Protestants. 

Authority of Reason 

While Cartwright recognized the authority of reason in arguments, 
commenting once in response to Whitgift that "reason withowt 
authoritie is good, and authoritie withowt reason nothing worthe," 
yet, like Calvin, he did not admit reason as a source of knowledge 
about God. Cartwright had introduced a dictum of Cicero showing 
that reason educated the consciences of the "heathen" but employed 
it to demonstrate that it was Scripture, not reason, that was to educate 
the Christian conscience. Hooker asks Cartwright what Scripture 
Cicero had "for his assurance," just after asking if Jews who observed 

through war and repression, led to the separation of nonconformist churches, the 
nineteenth-century disputes over science and historical biblical criticism, and the 
biblical moralism characterizing a significant segment of English society. See John E. 
Booty, "Hooker and Anglicanism," S.R.H., pp. 207-239. 

77 From A.C.L., title and chaps. 4 and 21 (4:6.2, 16.2-3, and 75.23, this edn.); 
see also 4:75. 23.n. 

See chap. 4 and epilogue (4:14-17 and 78.13-14). 

Seconde Replie, p. 20. Almasy discusses this section at length: see "Polemic," pp. 
266-269; see Calvin's statement quoted at 1:152.3— 5.n and also 177.9— 14.n. 


Books II, III & IV 

Jesus's works would not have done well without scriptural evidence to 
recognize the Father in him or if Thomas, on seeing Jesus's wounds, 
did not do well to believe his resurrection. Moving on to believers' 
affirmation of the Bible, he insisted that "the worde of God [cannot] 
assure us, that wee doe well to thinke it his worde" (see p. 156, 
above). By this series of examples, Hooker was suggesting that the 
same human capabilities that Cicero had employed also enabled the 
Jews, Thomas, and others in the communities of both Testaments and 
the post-apostolic church to determine truth in issues touching faith 
and conscience (II.4.2; l:152.w and 152.19-153.18). 

Human reason and the senses, as they had been understood and 
used by classical authors, had appropriate roles to play in Christian 
teaching and theology, even in leading men and women to acknowl- 
edge scriptural authority itself. In turning Cartwright's use of Cicero 
upside-down, Hooker dramatized the differences that lay between 
them in their measures of the value of reason in theological discourse. 
As an heir of Aristotle and medieval scholasticism, Hooker judged that 
sin had injured but not destroyed the God-given capacity of human 
reason to apprehend the rational and moral order of creation. This 
understanding gave him a double-edged sword in the debate with 
Puritans tending to biblical omnicompetence and judging the reason 
with which they interpreted Scripture to be the particular possession 
of the "godly": (1) the Bible is not the only source of moral guidance; 
and (2) common reason provides the most accurate test of the guiding 
of the Holy Spirit in scriptural interpretation. 

Heretofore, both advanced Protestants and their opponents had 
argued as if they essentially agreed on the authority of Scripture. 
Disciplinarians faulted conforming Puritans for overvaluing the magis- 
trate's authority to determine matters of church polity in ways contrary 
to what they both judged to be desirable. They condemned those who 
willingly embraced the Elizabethan settlement as either disguised semi- 
papists or badly misguided Protestants who simply failed to understand 
the implications of the faith they professed. But all parties — 
disciplinarians, conforming Puritans, and supporters of the settlement — 

See Introduction to Book I, pp. 102-108, above. 



assumed a common ground of what was, on the whole, an undefined 
scriptural authority. By examining for the first time that common 
ground, Hooker transformed the argument. 

The most striking difference between Whitgift and Hooker lies in 
their estimates of the authority of human reason in theological matters. 
Discussing negative arguments from Scripture, Cartwright had com- 
mented that arguments of human authorities "neyther affirmatively nor 
negatively compelleth the hearer." Although Whitgift did not 
mention human authorities in his response to this section, when 
Cartwright later scoffed that "all your proof. . . is in the authorities of 
men," Whitgift countered that, in contrast with 

prophane sciences . . . grounded . . . upon naturall and humayne 
reason, . . . that we professe is . . . grounded upon authoritie, . . . 
to be beleeved, what reason soever there is to the contrarie ... I 
think authoritie in divine matters to be the beste reason, whether 
it be of the scriptures themselves, or of such learned men as so 
rightly interpret the same. 

In the Second Replie Cartwright responded with the sentence quoted 
above that that "reason withowt authoritie is good, and authoritie 
withowt reason nothing worthe" (p. 20; see p. 164, above). Hooker 
did not refer to these latter two passages from Whitgift and Cart- 
wright. Although he too defended the value of human authorities 
against Cartwright, he subordinated them not only to Scripture, but 
also to that "naturall and humayne reason" which Whitgift had 

although ten thousand generall Councels would set downe one 
and the same definitive sentence concerning any point of religion 
whatsoever; yet one demonstrative reason alleaged, or one manifest 
testimony cited from the mouth of God himself to the contrary, 
could not choose but overweigh them all. (II. 7. 5; 180.23—27) 

Human authority and tradition ultimately rested upon reasoning from 

81 Replye (2nd edn.), p. 25; PS, 1:176; for fuller text, see II.7; 1:174.24-175.3. 

82 Cartwright, Replye (2nd edn.), p. 40 (PS, 1:427); Whitgift, Defense, p. 200 (PS, 
1:435); see l:175.8-9.n. 


Books II, III & IV 

natural or revealed law, and, accordingly, were subject to both. There 
would have been little point in Hooker's calling attention to his 
disagreement with Whitgift; in the archbishop's polemics, the issue 
was peripheral. For Hooker, however, the defense of human reason 
was a central concern of the first three books. 

Authority of Tradition 

Despite Hooker's privileging "one demonstrative reason" or a 
"manifest" scriptural testimony over the "opinions" of even ten 
thousand councils, any reader of the Lawes cannot but be impressed by 
his respect for fifteen hundred years of Christian experience. Properly 
interpreted, tradition was the consensus of human reason within the 
Christian community, and Hooker subordinates it only to the Bible 
and "demonstrative" reason, for "the most certaine token of evident 
goodnes is, if the generall perswasion of all men do so account it" 
(1.8.3; 1:83.17-19). 83 Regard for the stability provided by received 
heritage resonates throughout the Lawes. The "alteration of lawes [is] 
sometimes a thing necessary," but such alterations "must needes be 
troublesome and scandalous" (IV.14.1; 337.10-11, 22-23), and "if the 
benefit of that which is newly better devised bee but small, ... no 
doubt but to beare a tollerable soare is better then to venter on a 
daungerous remedie" (§ 2; 338.17—20). 

Although Hooker defends "the authority of men" on different 
grounds and to a different degree than Whitgift, he defends that 
authority with conviction, and his wide citations of voices from the 
past testify to the seriousness with which he takes the "wise, grave, 
and learned judgments" that tradition provides (II. 7. 6; 183.17—18). 

The word "tradition" had gained a perjorative connotation among 
European Protestants since the first sessions of the Council of Trent 
(1545-1563). As commonly interpreted, the decree on Scripture 
seemed to place equal weight on written texts and unwritten tradi- 
tions, and Hooker does not use the word "tradition." The absence 

See Introduction to Book I, pp. 106—108, above. 
84 Hooker has such views in mind in II.8.5 and 7 (1:189.11-22 and 191.16-20). 



of the word, however, does not signal the absence of the concept. 

Jewel had anchored the apologetics of the Church of England in the 
patristic era, but, for all of the esteem in which Hooker held his 
former patron, his own theological norms differed significantly. Partly 
due to Jewel's patristic scholarship and partly to the terms of Jewel's 
initial challenge to Harding, their debate centered on the first six 
hundred years of the Christian era. The patristic age loomed large 
throughout the theological polemics of sixteenth-century Europe, and 
Jewel was in the forefront of those who looked to the "old catholique 
Byshops and fathers" for guidance. When Hooker attacked the claim 
that the apostolic church of the New Testament was normative for 
church polity for all times, he asks: 

what reason is there in these thinges to urge the state of one 
onely age, as a patterne for all to followe? . . . The faith zeale and 
godlines of former times is worthylie had in honour: but doth 
this prove that the orders of the Church of Christ must bee still 
the selfe same with theirs, that nothing may bee which was not 
then; or that nothing which then was may lawfully since have 
ceased? (IV.2.3; 278.19-279.2) 

Hooker's question strikes not only at Puritan convictions, but at the 
implications of Jewel's apologetic stance as well. Hooker's patristic 
citations amply demonstrate his command of the literature of the early 
church, and although his medieval citations were few, they too con- 
tributed to his theological perspectives. Tradition was subordinate to 
Scripture and reason, but it was serviceable, and it included not six but 
fifteen centuries of Christian history. 

v. Ecclesiology: Church and Polity 

Hooker does not treat the issues of polity that comprised the most 
obvious points of friction with the discipinarians without carefully first 
establishing the underlying "grounds." Epistemology came first, but 

85 See l:278.19-21.n. On Jewel, see John E. Booty John Jewel (1963), and W. M. 
Southgate, John Jewel and the Problem of Doctrinal Authority (1962); see also W. P. 
Haugaard, "Renaissance Patristic Scholarship," pp. 52-53. 


Books II, III & IV 

polity could not, as he judged, be considered apart from the larger 
issues of the character of the Christian community. 

The Doctrine of the Church 

The ancient creeds had assigned four "marks" (notae) to describe the 
true body of Christian believers: one, holy, catholic, and apostolic. 
With these criteria firmly embedded in the creeds recited in the liturgy 
and affirmed in the Articles of Religion, the English church also 
specified in the latter two additional marks prescribed in continental 
Lutheran and Reformed confessions: the true church is that "in which 
the pure word of God is preached, and the Sacramentes be duely 
ministred." Some theologians, including the Edwardian bishop 
John Poynet, had included "discipline" as a third essential mark of the 
church. Ignoring contemporary formulae, Hooker wrote that the 

86 Article 19; see Hardwicke, Articles (1895), p. 317. 

Although Calvin judges that discipline provides the sinews of the church 
"through which the members of the body hold together," he stops short of naming 
it a mark essential for the very existence of the church; see Institutes, 4.12.1 and 1.9; 
also, Francois Wendel, Calvin (Paris, 1950), pp. 228—229. Martin Bucer comes closer. 
In his De regno Christi, composed in England under Edward, he writes that God 
"shapes and perfects" those incorporated into "his holy Church" by "the ministry of 
the word and sacraments . . . and also by the vigilant administration of his discipline"; 
see chap. 5, Melanchthon and Bucer, ed. Wilhelm Pauck, LCC, 19:225. Among the 
authoritative Reformed doctrinal symbols, the Scottish and Belgic confessions alone 
formally named discipline a third mark of the church; see Philip Schaff, The Creeds of 
Christendom, 4th ed. (New York, 1919), 3:419 and 462. In his 1553 Catechism (STC 
4807—12), John Poynet added both "brotherly love" and "discipline" to the two 
standard Reformation marks; see The Two Liturgies . . . of King Edward VI, ed. Joseph 
Ketley, PS (Cambridge, 1854), pp. 513 and 561. In a catechism unsuccessfully 
proposed as a confessional document at the 1563 Convocation and ordered by the 
bishops in 1571 to be used by schoolmasters, Alexander Nowell added "invocation" 
(that is, public prayer) as the third essential mark of the church and put discipline into 
a secondary category. Although it was necessary for churches to be "well-ordered," 
he lamented that since discipline had been "little and little decaying," it could "hardly 
be maintained" in the church of his day; see A Catechism Written in Latin, ed. G. E. 
Corrie, PS (Cambridge, 1853), pp. 56 and 175 (STC 18701; trans. Thomas Norton, 
STC 18708). 



visible Church is that "one bodie" whose children "are signed with this 
marke, One Lord, one faith, one baptisme" (III. 1.3 and 7; 1:196.3—7 and 
198.8—9). Although compatible with both the four ancient creedal 
and the Reformation criteria, Hooker's exposition, using these organiz- 
ing themes from Ephesians 4:5, developed a distinctive ecclesiology that 
rendered an ecumenically sensitive theological account of the divisions 
that had sundered the western church in the sixteenth century. 

At the beginning of Book III Hooker distinguishes "that Church of 
Christ which we properly terme his body mysticall" from the "sensi- 
ble knowne company, . . . [the] visible Church" (III. 1.2 and 3; 1:194. 
27—28 and 195.26—27). Augustine had used "mystical body" to identi- 
fy the living and dead whom God had predestined to salvation, an 
understanding that Thomas had incorporated into his theology. 
Although "mystical body" was a current term in sixteenth-century 
Europe, English theologians increasingly substituted "invisible" for 
"mystical." Calvin had closely tied his doctrine of the church to his 
understanding of predestination, and as the decrees of election 

Hooker employs this same triad along with "one spirite" in his Answer to 
Travers's Supplication as the common "bandes of greate force" that link them together 
in the church "in this corner of the christian worlde" (§ 26; 5:257.6—11, this edn.). 

For general discussions of Hooker's doctrine of Church, see H. F. Woodhouse, 
The Doctrine of the Church in Anglican Theology, 1547-1603 (1954), pp. 13-74; Paul D. 
L. Avis, The Church in the Theology of the Reformers (Adanta: John Knox Press, 1981), 
pp. 1—94, and Anglicanism and the Christian Church (Minneapolis: Fortress, 1989), pp. 
47-67; Lake, Anglicans and Puritans? (1988), pp. 153-197; and Loyer, 2:545-596. Avis 
and Lake emphasize the distinctively new character of Hooker's teaching. 

For a recent discussion of Augustine's doctrine of Church, see Jaroslav Pelikan, 
The Mystery of Continuity: Time and History, Memory and Eternity in the Thought of Saint 
Augustine (Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press, 1986), pp. 90-105. For 
Aquinas's ecclesiology in relation to that of Augustine, see Geddes MacGregor, Corpus 
Christi: The Nature of the Church According to the Reformed Tradition (Philadelphia: 
Westminster, 1958), pp. 28-30. 

This linkage one modern Calvin scholar has judged to be the serious method- 
ological error of his ecclesiology; see MacGregor, Corpus Christi, p. 48. "[Ecclesia] stat 
cum Dei electione" (The church stands by God's election), Institutes, 4.1.3; Opera 
omnia, CR (Brunswick, 1864-), 2:748. Calvin speaks of the visible church, but, 
although in the Institutes he describes the body of "all the elect from the beginning of 
the world" as "invisible to us," he does not generally employ it, as did later writers, 


Books II, III & IV 

became more central to later Reformed theology than they had been 
for Calvin, the term "invisible church" increasingly suggested two 
separate entities with a minimal relation between them, in spite of 
Reformed teachings that emphasized the importance of the visible 
church in the process of salvation. Luther had applied the words 
"invisible" and "hidden" to the church, referring not to the deity's 
secret choice in eternal decrees but to the character of the secret 
operations of God's grace that drew men and women to salvation. 
Hooker consistently prefers the earlier adjective "mystical" to "invisi- 
ble" in the Lawes; once he describes the church as the "invisible 
spouse," but even here he links it with the "mysticall body of Christ" 
(III. 11.14; 1:261. 25-26). 93 

Nowhere does Hooker suggest that the divine decrees of predesti- 
nation provide the foundation for a definition of the mystical body or 
an identification of its members. Rather, the human "markes and 
notes of distinction" of its members are perceived by God who "seeth 
their heartes and understandeth all their secret cogitations" (III. 1.2; 
195.9—12). For the conditions of membership, Hooker directs his 
readers not to the divine choice but to inner human character. 
Whether the test of that character is understood as Thomas's infused 
virtues or as Luther's trusting acceptance of God's love, in respect to 
the relationship of predestination to a doctrine of the church, Hooker 
stands closer to Aquinas and Luther than to Calvin. Grace, rather than 
election, is the foundation of his ecclesiology. 

as an identifying adjective for that body ("nobis invisibilem," "l'Eglise invisible a 
nous" (4.1.7); also "ecclesiam . . . quasi in latebris," "Eglise comme en cachette" 
(4.1.2; CR, 2:753 and 747, 4:575 and 565). 

"invisibilis," "absconditus"; MacGregor, Corpus Christi, p. 8n. 

In Jude 1, Hooker had spoken of Christ's reservation of "the mysticall adminis- 
tration of the church invisible unto himselfe," but even in this earlier work he 
described the ordained ministry as having been entrusted with "the mysticall govern- 
ment of congregations visible" (§ 15; 5:31.15-17, this edn.). 

Noted by Lake, Anglicans and Puritans?, p. 161. 

Hooker, of course, stands closer to Luther than to Thomas on the test of inner 
character: the imputed justifying righteousness of Christ is "in dignitye . . . the 
chefeste" above the ingrafted sanctifying righteousness of the infused virtues so that 
"we are justefied by faith alone and yett . . ■ without good workes we are not 



Hooker's retention of the expression "mystical body" signifies more 
than a liking for traditional language. His assertion of the headship of 
Christ, the identification of the church with pre-Christian Israel, the 
division between those on earth and in heaven, the recognition of 
actuality and potentiality of church membership, and the inclusion in 
the visible church of those not part of the mystical body all reflect the 
section on ecclesiology of Thomas's Summa theologiae that Hooker 
cites. Hooker shared these concepts, all Augustinian as well as 
Thomistic, with Lutheran and Reformed theologians, but by explicit 
citation he placed his ecclesiology in the tradition of Thomas. Greek 
theologians in the early church borrowed the word mystical from the 
cults designated as "mystery" religions; the word came from the verb 
"to initiate into the mysteries." Joined to Paul's description of the 
church as "the body of Christ," it described those who had been made 
members of Christ by the rites of initiation. This association with 
baptism and the dual reference of Christ's body to the Eucharistic 
bread and to the church itself gave the phrase the sense of the indwell- 
ing of Christ in those sacramentally incorporated into the church. 
"Mystical" in the writings of Augustine and Aquinas denoted this 
sacramental incorporation into the church as well as the predestined 
elect. "Invisible" denoted only the latter. Given Hooker's mastery of 
Greek, it may be assumed that he was aware of the nuances of the 
association of "mystical body" with both Baptism and the Eucha- 
rist. Discussing the church in prayer, Hooker writes of the "visible 
mysticall bodie" (V.24.1; 2:111.26). His pairing of the two adjectives 
that he usually uses to distinguish two overlapping church member- 

justefied" (Just., § 21; 5:130.2-11, this edn.; see also V.56.10-12; 2:241-244). For an 
interpretation of Hooker's doctrine on justification as one which mediates between 
the Reformers and Trent, see Lee W. Gibbs, "Richard Hooker's Via Media Doctrine 
of Justification," Harvard Theological Review 74 (April, 1981): 220. Hooker writes of 
the relation of the three infused theological virtues (faith, hope, and love) to salvation: 
the want of virtues such as moral righteousness and honesty of life "excludeth from 
salvation. So doth much more the absence of inward beleefe of hart; so doth despaire 
and lacke of hope; so emptines of Christian love and charitie" (III. 1.7; 1:198.4—7). 
And see Introduction to Commentary, Tractates and Sermons, 5:638-641. 

96 See nn to 1:194.27-32, 195.28-32, and 195.32-196.3.e. 

97 Compare V.77.2 (2:425.14-17), and see Loyer, 2:600. 


Books II, III & IV 

ships does not reflect a lack of logical rigor, but rather expresses his 
understanding of an intimate relationship between the mystical body 


and its visible, sacramental manifestation. Hooker's preference for 
"mystical" over "invisible" reflects that same understanding. 

Hooker introduced a new ecclesiological perspective when he used 
the phrases from Ephesians as the "marks" identifying the visible church. 
An "extremely comprehensive definition" of church membership, 
unique for the age, is implicit in these marks as Hooker develops them. 
"One Lorde" suggests the strongly Christological bent of Hooker's 
theology, an emphasis he shares with other sixteenth-century theologians 
from Anabaptist to Jesuit. He approvingly notes in Book V that the 
aposdes accounted "them which call upon the name of our Lord Jesus Christ to 
be his Church" (V.68.6; 2:349.23-24). "One faith" and "one baptisme" 
parallel the Reformation pair, "word" and "sacraments," but Hooker 
puts them into a context distinctive from that of the continental confes- 
sions and the English Articles of Religion. He identifies "faith" with the 
"few articles of Christian beliefe" as the early patristic writers Irenaeus 
and Tertullian had summarized them (see nn to 1:197.8-23). These 
passages outline Christian affirmations in a manner parallel to the "Apos- 
des' Creed," which subsequendy had emerged as the western baptismal 
creed that the Prayer Book, following monastic devotional usage, or- 
dered to be recited in various liturgical offices. Hooker would have 
assumed that this faith implied a Protestant doctrine of justification by 
grace through faith, but he chose to return to a universal doctrinal 

symbol of early centuries rather than to a distinctively reformed formu- 

la. "One baptisme" distinctively emphasizes both the sacramental 

and the inclusive character of the visible church. 

Compare his mention of the "mysticall government" of the visible church cited 
in n. 93 above from Jude 1. Lake comments: "Just as the puritan insistence on the 
need for visible godliness as a sign of elect status served to blur the line between the 
visible and invisible church, so Hooker's insistence on the need to rely on the means 
which God has ordained to unite us with him in Christ also tended to conflate the 
two levels of the church's existence" {Anglicans and Puritans?, p. 180). 

Cargill Thompson, S.R.H., p. 54; rpr. Studies in the Reformation, p. 178 

100 m f 

On Hooker's doctrine of justification, see n. 95 above. That faith is more than 
intellectual acceptance of doctrine is clear from his description, "inward beleefe of 
hart." Compare Avis, The Church in the Theology of the Reformers, pp. 68—73. 



The Church and the Churches 

Hooker's understanding of the church allowed him to affirm its 
inclusive character while simultaneously criticizing the errors he 
perceived in the divided church of his own day. The sundered parts of 
the western church remained, collectively, a part of that visible histori- 
cal community, the "one bodie" that stretched back to the apostles, to 
Christ, and, beyond, ,to ancient Israel: 

They aske us where our Church did lurke, in what cave of the 
earth it slept for so many hundreds of yeeres together before the 
birth of Martin Luther? As if we were of opinion that Luther did 
erect a new church of Christ. No the church of Christ which 
was from the beginning is and continueth unto the end. Of 
which Church all parts have not been alwaies equallie sincere and 
sound. (III. 1.10; 1:201.6-12) 

Hooker warns of the errors that have arisen from the failure to distin- 
guish "betweene the visible sound and corrupted, sometimes more, 
sometimes lesse" (1.9; 199.27—28). Schism and heresy are matters of 
degree. Only "Saracens, Jewes, and Infidels," who "denie directlie and 
utterlie reject the very principles of Christianity," are absolutely 
excluded from the bounds of the church (1.7 and 11; 198.12 and 
203.9—10). When Cartwright identifies Roman Catholics with the 
"heathen" of ancient times, expressing greater fear of infection "from 
Turks [than] ^rom Papists" Hooker judges it "a strange kind of speech 
unto Christian eares" (7.6; 297.4—6). In Book V, defending the 
admission to holy communion of persons suspected of "popery," 
Hooker reflects this same dual concern for an inclusive understanding 
of the Church and for distinguishing true doctrine and practice. 
Within the wide expanse of separated parts of the visible church, 

albeit ech part doe justifie it selfe, yeat the one of necessitie must 
needes erre if there be anie contradiction betweene them, . . . and 
what side soever it be that hath the truth, the same wee must also 
acknowledg alone to hold with the true Church in that point, and 
consequently reject the other as an enimie in that case fallen awaie 
from the true Church. (V.68.6; 2:350.29-351.4) 

In making these distinctions, "in that point" and "in that case" (the 


Books II, III & IV 

italics are in the manuscript that Hooker himself corrected; see 2:xvii— 
xx), Hooker provided a means of ecclesiological analysis which en- 
abled Christians to identify what they believed to be the "truth" and 
"error" held by a particular church without impugning its character as 
part of the church catholic whose grasp of other teachings and practic- 
es might be positively affirmed. Such an ecclesiology is consistent with 
the opening of the Preface in which Hooker assures Puritans who may 
judge him "an adversarie against the truth" that he "desireth even to 
embrace together with you the selfe same truth, if it be the truth" (Pref. 1.3; 
1:3.2—4). Such analyses of Christian disunity are commonplace in 
twentieth-century ecumenical discussion; Hooker's combination of 
charitable openness and theological rigor is exceptional in the sixteenth 

The ecumenical vision of Christian unity articulated at the end of 
Book IV might be achieved by "some such consultation, as may tende 
to the best reestablishment of the whole Church of Jesus Christ." 
Comparing the "calme and moderate" course of the English reformation 
with "more extreme and rigorous" trials of "certaine Churches else- 
where," he suggests that the Church of England "can not but serve as 
a profitable direction" for that future reconciliation (IV.14.6; 1:342.15, 
28—343.3). Whereas Jewel had located the English church along with 
Lutheran and Reformed between the extremes of Roman Catholic and 
Anabaptist, Hooker, like Nicholas Throckmorton before him and his 
pupil Sandys after him, suggests an ecumenical perspective in which the 
Church of England lies between Rome and unnamed portions of the 
churches of the magisterial continental Reformation. 

Discipline and Ministry 

Only in Book III does Hooker begin to discuss "ecclesiasticall politie," 
his treatise's announced topic, describing it as whatsoever "belongeth to 
the ordering of the Church in publique" (III. 1.14; 1:206.28-29). 
Considering discipline, the ordained ministry, and common worship as 

101 See Introduction to The Preface, pp. 3-8, above; for Jewel, see Apology of the 
Church of England, ed. John Booty (1963), pp. 24-30. 



its principal elements, he roots them in ecclesiology (1 1 1. 1.1 and 14), 
from the perspective of epistemology (II. 1.2— 3, III. 9.1). 

Among Hooker's theological priorities, "publique religious duties" 
and the persons who minister them are essential to God's outreach to 
the world. To such duties "as the administration of the word and 
sacraments, prayers, spirituall censures, and the like . . . the Church 
standeth alwayes bound." Since these functions require "a difference 
of persons, . . . Gods clergie are a state which hath beene and will be, 
as long as there is a Church upon earth, necessarie by the plaine word 
of God himselfe." "Lawes of politie" provide necessary guidelines for 
the "maner" by which discipline, ministry, and worship are to be 
ordered in church life (III. 11.20; 1:267.18-29). It is in Books III and 
IV that Hooker lays down the general principles which underlie his 
defense in subsequent books of particular practices and structures of 
the Church of England that had drawn the Puritan accusation that 
"allmost whatsoever wee doe in the exercise of our religion . . . [is] 
stained with superstition" (V.4.1; 2:30.21-24). 

Hooker's freedom from biblical literalism in determining polity 
must not be interpreted as a carte blanche for churches to order them- 
selves capriciously. "Whatsoever in the Church of God, if it be not of 
God, wee hate it" (207.13-14; III.2.1). God's "verie lawe of nature," 
accessible to human reason, provides a context within which the 
church interprets scriptural law, drawing on the perceived order of 
creation and human experience in order to determine what is "most 
convenient and fit" in its present circumstances (III. 2.1 and 9.1; 
207.19 and 236.7). The ecclesiological issues that disciplinarians had 
raised evoked an epistemological response. Before applying any scrip- 
tural law to the Elizabethan church, one must determine its purpose in 
the biblical setting and assess the congruity of that setting with six- 
teenth-century England. Because an integral part of the human experi- 
ence available to churches is found in the collective wisdom stored in 
their traditional heritage, Hooker warns of the dangers of unnecessary 
alterations in the "publique spirituall affayres" of the Church (see pp. 
142-143 and 167, above). 

Disagreements over discipline and ministry were inextricably inter- 
twined in the disciplinarians' call for a restructuring of ministry. They 
would have a scriptural exercise of "spirituall censures" (III. 11.20; 


Books II, III & IV 

1:267.20—21), for only a proper "regiment of the Church" could 
assure godly discipline. In the 1593 volume, Hooker foreshadows 
arguments that were to appear in Book VI by suggesting that, at best, 
the disciplinarians had shown that "some thinges which they maintaine, 
as far as some men can probably conjecture, do seeme to have bene out of 
scripture not absurdly gathered." He found their conjectures to be 
faulty three ways: by omitting the need for a superior order of pastors 
"when they grow to any great multitude," by requiring offices men- 
tioned in Scripture which were not "of perpetuall necessitie," and by 
insisting on "Layelders, which the scripture neither maketh immutable 
nor at all teacheth" (III. 11. 20; 268.30-269.8). "The Church may not 
. . . abrogate" her exercise of excommunication any more than she 
may reject the "Ceremonies" of baptism and the Eucharist, but the 
disciplinarians "overmuch abridge the Church of her power" to 
determine the manner by which church censures are to be applied; the 
disagreement in these matters is "how farre the bounds of the Church- 
es libertie do reach" (111.11.13; 259.11-20 and 260.12-15). 

To the dismay of many of its critics, the retention in the English 
church of episcopacy distinguished the administrative structure of its 
ministry from that of Reformed and most Lutheran churches of the 
continent. In Book III Hooker is primarily concerned to counter the 
claim that churches must find in the New Testament an unchangeable 
model for the forms of ministry. Although he leaves detailed discussion 
of episcopal polity for Book VII, in the concluding sections of III he 
suggests the direction of the arguments to appear in VII. 

Since, "where the clergie are any great multitude," order requires 
"that by degrees they be distinguished," there have "ever beene and 
ever ought to be" at least "two sorts . . . the one subordinate unto the 

102 III.3.2 and II.7.9; 210.17-18 and 185.16-18; see Introduction to Book VI, pp. 
254-255 and 303-305, below. 

Norman Sykes suggested that there is "a difference at least in emphasis, if not 
further, between the earlier and later books"; Old Priest and New Presbyter (Cambridge: 
The University Press, 1956), p. 13; but compare Loyer, pp. 629-630; W. P. Haugaard, 
"Towards an Anglican Doctrine of Ministry: Richard Hooker and the Elizabethan 
Church," Anglican and Episcopal History, 56.3 (1987): 280; and Introduction to Book 
VII, pp. 326-334, below. 



other." Scripture and "all Ecclesiasticall records" plainly testify that 
"Apostles in the beginning" and "Bishops alwayes since" have exer- 
cised that authority over "other ministers of the word and sacraments." 
"A sollemne admittance" to ministerial charges (ordination) is a 
necessary corollary. These are "principall and perpetuall parts in 
Ecclesiasticall politie," to be contrasted with other variable "particular- 
ities" including "thenlargement or abridgement of functions ministeri- 
all." Accordingly, the Bible contains things that must be "for ever 
permanent" along with much that is "not alwayes needfull." Beyond 
these required and optional scriptural precedents, the church will also 
always need that "which the scripture teacheth not." Concluding this 
section with a summary judgment of the faults of Genevan applications 
of New Testament polity, Hooker expressly promises more in "the 
bookes that followe" (III. 11. 20; 1:268.6-269.8). 104 

As strongly as Hooker urges episcopal polity as a permanent element 
wherever pastors "grow to any great multitude," he foreshadows in 
Book III the observation in Book VII that "there may be sometimes 
very just and sufficient reason to allow Ordination made without a 
Bishop," a judgment based not on ecumenical charity but on the 
theological principle that not episcopacy but the entire visible church 
is "the true original subject of all power" (14.11; 3:227.3—5). Hooker 
would "rather lament . . . then exagitate" the "defect and imperfection" 
of Scottish and French Reformed churches, which "have not that 
which best agreeth with the sacred scripture," government by bishops 
(III. 11.16; 1:264.3-11). At the same time that Hooker establishes the 
premise that Scripture need not contain an unalterable form of Church 
polity, he lays the groundwork for maintaining the traditional episco- 
pal polity of the Church of England on twin foundations of that very 
Scripture and on natural law. 

Hooker's understanding of the ordained ministry in a Christian 
nation reflected continued adherence to the medieval political concept, 
written into the parliamentary legislation of the English reformation, 

Although Book VII is specifically dedicated to episcopacy, the final six chapters 
of Book V and much of the lost sections of VI also treat of the forms and functions 
of the ministry; see below, Introductions to Book V, pp. 186 and 191-192; to Book 
VI, pp. 254-255 and 303-305; and to Book VII, pp. 326-337. 


Books II, III & IV 

that ordained ministers constituted a distinct "estate" within the 
nation. In Book VIII he develops the principles by which "Eccle- 
siastical! lawe" may be determined with "consent as well of the laitie 
as of the Clergie" in relation to the necessary consent of the crown 
(VIII.6.7[8]; 3:393.8-1 1). 105 In Book III, Hooker describes "Gods 
clergie" as a "state" distinguished from "the rest of Gods people" 
(III. 11. 20; 1:267.27—31). Continental churches, in contrast, considered 
that the Protestant minister was, by ordination, appointed to "an 
assignment or office ([German:] amt)" not to a fundamental division 
of the social order. 


Just as Hooker suggests in Book III the directions of the detailed 
discussion of discipline and episcopacy in Books VI and VII, so in 
Books III and IV he points towards his treatment in Book V of 
worship as it is ordered in the Book of Common Prayer. Al- 
though "politie and regiment" are essential to order "the publique 
spirituall affayres of the Church of God" in worship, these, like 
matters of discipline and ministry, need not follow "anie one certayne 
forme" in all churches (III.1.14, 2.1; 1:206.31, 207.8-10). In the many 
"things indifferent" concerning "particular ceremonies, ... it is not 
possible that the lawe of nature and reason should direct all Churches 
unto the same things" (IV. 13.8; 332.23-32). It is to be expected that 
the passage of time will require changes in worship and its ceremonial: 

Things so ordained are to bee kept, howbeit not necessarily any 
longer, then till there growe some urgent cause to ordaine the 
contrary. For there is not any positive lawe of men, whether it 
be generall or particular, received by formall expresse consent, as 
in councels; or by secret approbation, as in customes, . . . but the 

105 See Introduction to Book VIII, pp. 361-370, below. 

106 Wilhelm Pauck, "The Ministry in the Time of the Continental Reformation," 
in The Ministry in Historical Perspective, ed. H. Richard Niebuhr and Daniel D. 
Williams (New York: Harper, 1956), p. 143; see also Haugaard, "Ministry," pp. 269— 

107 See Introduction to Book V, pp. 183-186 and 223-228, below. 



same may be taken away if occasion serve. (14.5; 340.20-26) 

In determining forms of worship, the church is not further tied 
"unto scripture, then that against scripture nothing be admitted in the 
Church," a judgment consistent with that of the Lutheran churches of 
the continent in contrast to the Reformed, who looked to the Bible 
for specific direction in matters of polity. Hooker carefully distinguish- 
es "substantiall duties in the exercise of religion," such as sacraments, 
"delivered from God him self in few wordes," from ceremonies, the 
"externall rites, as are usually annexed unto Church-actions." All 
sixteenth-century reformers would agree with Hooker that "the 
edification of the Church" is the end at which ceremonies are to aim; 
they would not, however, all accept his contention that, in addition to 
speech, "sundry sensible meanes besids" have their rightful place in 
worship (III.3.3 and IV. 1.3; 211.20-31 and 273.20-274.5). With their 
intensely cerebral forms of worship, Reformed churches tended to 
judge that the ear was the exclusive gate to human minds and 
hearts. Lutheran rites preserved traditional order in worship be- 
cause of "an instinctive sense that [their] dignity and solemnity were 
a safeguard of the reverence due to the holy." Luther himself 
wrote that he was not 

of the opinion that the gospel should destroy and blight all the 
arts, as some of the pseudo-religious claim. But I would like to 
see all the arts, especially music, used in the service of Him who 
gave and made them. 

Hooker bases his defense of ceremonies of the English church on 
principles similarly rooted in the created order of human society. 
Words alone are "for the most parte but sleightlye heard," but the 

108 See Hughes Oliphant Old, The Patristic Roots of Reformed Worship (Zurich: 
Theologischer Verlag Zurich, 1975), part I; James Hastings Nichols, Corporate Worship 
in the Reformed Tradition (Philadelphia: Westminster, 1968), chaps. 1—4; and texts and 
introductions in Bard Thompson, ed., Liturgies of the Western Church (Cleveland: 
Meridian Books, 1961), pp. 147-208. 

Yngve Brilioth, Evangelical Faith and Practice: Evangelical and Catholic (London: 
S.P.C.K., 1930), p. 141. 

110 D. Martin Luthers Werke, 35:475; Luther's Works, 53:316. 


Books II, III & IV 

distinguishing strangeness of "some visible solemnitie . . . doth cause 
popular eyes to observe and to marke the same." The eye, not the ear, 
is "the liveliest and the most apprehensive" of the senses. Ceremonies 
of the Christian church reflect a God-given "ground of reason" in 
nature exemplified both in religion, Jewish or pagan, and in civil life, 
"for in both they have their necessary use and force" (IV. 1.3; 1:274.6— 
7, 14—22, and 275.21). Historical perspective provides a context for 
determining appropriate ceremonial action. Asking what reason de- 
mands that "the state of one onely age" become "a patteme for all to 
followe," Hooker concludes that church orders "framed sutable to the 
greatnes and dignitie" of later times may be as acceptable to God as 
"the reverend simplicity of auncienter" ages (IV.2.3 and 4; 278.19—21 
and 279.30-33). Implicitly recognizing that geography as well as the 
passage of time may mark distinctive cultural contexts of worship, 
Hooker acknowledges that ceremonies in other churches may quite 
appropriately differ from those of the English church. Disputing the 
demand that English ceremonies conform to those of other Reformed 
churches, he half jests that if 

our owne be but equall, the law of common indulgence alloweth 
us to thinke them at the least halfe a thought the better because 
they are our owne; which we may very well do and never drawe 
any inditement at all against theirs, but thinke commendably 
even of them also. (IV. 13. 10; 1:336.2-7) 

Like most of his contemporaries, Hooker assumed that social stability 
required any particular society to conform to an agreed pattern of 
worship, but he willingly embraces diversity in the larger European 
arena, citing Gregory the Great, Augustine, and Calvin as authorities 
who also welcomed differences of custom and ceremony as appropriate 
(IV.13.3; 329.13-27). 

First principles having been established in the first four books, Hooker 
may "in the next booke have occasion more throughlie to sift" those 
ceremonies that Puritans "pretend to be so scandalous" (IV. 12.8; 325.29— 
30). His account of the "generall grounds and foundations," of the Puritans 
and of their "generall accusations against us" completed, he will logically 
proceed to "the specialities of that cause which lyeth in controuersie" as he had 
announced he would do in his Preface (7.5, 6; 1:35.18—19, 28). 




Dialog toes contra quasim Hxrefis . 
Centra Hxreticos Wer in fo illorim 
mgts,et jaW« fl<OT<» f CT r«fcrg»fc ♦ 
Ditdnorum iognatum qitomt* 



Apottatn , ««» Pri«%» ^ Dcawwwu Aww 
M D X L V II ♦ Utnjc lanmrio* 

\, f ~; Qvk *v& Pf ovo/wow" ;<* J 

2. Title page of the edition of Theodoret of Cyrrhus's fifth-century epitome of 
patristic ordiodoxy, Dialogi tres, cited by Hooker in die Christological chapters of 
Book V of the Lawes. 

Book V 

John E. Booty 

i. Design and Purpose 

When the first four books of the Lawes were published in 1593, 
Hooker announced that the last four concerned "the specialities of that 
cause which lyeth in controversie" and that Book V "examineth the causes 
by you alleaged, wherefore the publique duties of Christian religion, as our 
prayers our Sacraments and the rest, should not be ordered in such sort as with 
us they are" (Pref. 7.6; 1:35.28—31). The table at the end of the Preface 
of "things . . . handled in the Bookes following" gives another description: 
"The fift, of our lawes that concerne the publike religious duties of 
the Church, and the maner of bestowing that power of order which 
inableth men in sundrie degrees and callings to execute the same" 
(1:54.12—14). This statement makes no direct reference to the polemi- 
cal purpose of the book, defines "publique duties of Christian religion" as 
"publike religious duties," and makes specific reference to the ministry 
and "that power of order" necessary for their performance in the church. 
The head-title to the book supplies a third description, specifically 
referring to the Puritans: 

Of theire fourth assertion, That touchinge the seuerall publique duties 
of Christian religion, there is amongst us much superstition reteined in 
them; and concerning persons which for performance of those duties are 
indued with the power of Ecclesiasticall order, our lawes and proceedinges 
accordinge thereunto are many wayes herein also corrupt. (2:15) 

How are we to understand these three descriptions? 

Book V as a Defense of the Book of Common Prayer 

The most straightforward interpretation of Book V is to view it as 
a defense of the Book of Common Prayer against the objections of 



the Puritans who contended that it was full of superstitious practices, 
"an unperfecte booke, culled and picked out of that popishe dunghil, 
the Masse booke." The title of Book V clearly indicates such a 
polemical purpose. The "theire" refers to the Admonitioners and 
those whose cause they represent, the "publique duties of Christian 
religion' refers to the Prayer Book in relation to the chief Puritan 
objections, and a "corrupt" ministry refers to those charged with 
responsibility for the conduct of public duties (worship) according to 
the Prayer Book established by law. 

The first Admonition, to which Thomas Cartwright and other 
Puritan spokesmen refer in their attacks on "superstitious practices," 
opens: "Seeing that nothyng in this mortal life is more diligently soght 
for, and carefully to be loked unto than the restitution of true religion 
and reformation of Gods church: . . ."; Book V's first two chapters 
treat the same subject. The Admonition attacks the Book of Common 
Prayer and the ministry responsible for its use, comparing the practices 
of the Prayer Book unfavorably to those of the early church. Book V 
deals with their chief objections, acknowledging obvious clerical faults 
without admitting the Admonitioners' main conclusion, that the 
ministry is so corrupt that it must be radically reformed, if not dis- 

The second part of the first Admonition, called "A view of Popishe 
abuses yet remaining in the Englishe Church," attacks the Book of 
Common Prayer for its neglect of preaching and its abuses affecting 
the Lord's Supper and the daily offices. Baptism, Matrimony, Burial of 
the Dead, Churching of Women, and the Ordinal, referred to as the 
"pontificall (which is annexed to the boke of common prayer . . .)," 

An Admonition to the Parliament, rpr. P.M., p. 21; see n. 152, pp. 71-72, above. 
2 P.M., p. 8. 

Concerning the general distress over the ignorant as well as the corrupt clergy, 
see John E. Booty, "The Bishop Confronts the Queen: John Jewel and the Failure of 
the English Reformation," in Continuity and Discontinuity in Church History: Essays 
Presented to George Hunston Williams, ed. F. Forrester Church and Timothy George 
(Leiden: E.J. Brill, 1979), pp. 215-231. 


Book V 

are singled out for special attention. Hooker defends them all against 
the Puritan accusations of superstition and corruption. Arthur S. 
McGrade has been puzzled by the emphasis on the sacraments in the 
Lawes, as Hooker "was not on the whole a highchurchman," but 
there is a similar emphasis in the Admonition. Because of the likeness 
of the Eucharist to the Roman Mass, it was the Holy Communion 
that seemed most superstitious. Hooker was of necessity bound to 
focus his attention on it and the other sacraments as well. And, al- 
though the Ordinal was not printed with the 1559 Prayer Book, it 
was treated by the Puritans as "annexed." 

In Book V Hooker treats virtually every part of the Book of Com- 
mon Prayer. The 1559 Prayer Book opens with the Act of Uniformity 
representing the state's enforcement of public religious duties; Hook- 
er's first chapter is headed: "True Religion is the roote of all true virtues 
and the stay of all well ordered common-wealthes" (2:16.1—2). The Prayer 
Book Preface concerns avoiding superstition; Hooker emphasizes the 
same avoidance (chaps. 3—4; also, chaps. 25—27). The essay "Of 
Ceremonies" stands behind Hooker's presentation of four general 
propositions (chaps. 6—10; compare Book IV). The Prayer Book 
tables, lectionary, and almanac provide for the observance of liturgical 
time, feasts, and fasts; Hooker treats these after his discussion of the 
sacraments (chaps. 69—72). The first rubric of Morning Prayer specifies 
the place where worship shall be conducted; Hooker deals with 
liturgical space in chapters 11-17. The second rubric of Morning 
Prayer is the famous — to the Puritans infamous — "Ornaments Rubric" 
governing what vestments should be worn; Hooker deals with clerical 
attire and gesture in chapters 29-30. The forms of prayer, lessons, 

4 P.M., pp. 20-34. 

An Abridged Edition, p. 26. 

See McGrade, "The Public and the Religious in Hooker's Polity" Church 
History, 37.4 (December 1968): 408. In n. 11 McGrade points out that "although the 
ordinal came at the end of the 1552 Prayer Book, it was not included in the 1559 
version . . . but was published independently." 

See The Book of Common Prayer, 1559: The Elizabethan Prayer Book, ed. John E. 
Booty (1976); hereafter, B.C. P., 1559. 



psalms, and canticles of Morning and Evening Prayer Hooker treats in 
chapters 31—40 and 42-49. The Litany follows the Offices in the 1559 
Book; in chapter 41 Hooker treats it in relation to the Offices. The 
Collects, Epistles, and Gospels of the church year, which follow the 
Litany in the 1559 Book, Hooker treats in chapters 33 and 69—72. 
The sacraments come next in the Prayer Book and also in Book V 
(chaps. 50—68). Baptism follows Holy Communion in the Book of 
Common Prayer, but Hooker places the sacrament of entrance into 
the Christian life logically before the sacrament that sustains that life. 
Confirmation, traditionally located in the pontifical as the bishop's 
office, follows Baptism in the Prayer Book; Hooker treats it in its 
most logical place, between Baptism and Holy Communion (chap. 66; 
see chap. 18 on the Catechism). Matrimony follows Confirmation in 
the Prayer Book; Hooker treats it briefly (chap. 73), following his 
discussion of liturgical time. Visitation and Communion of the Sick 
Hooker addresses only incidentally (chap. 68.11—12). In the Prayer 
Book "The Thanksgiving of Women after Childbirth" follows Burial; 
Hooker more reasonably puts it before Burial (chaps. 74—75). Com- 
mination concludes the Prayer Book, but Hooker makes only a 
fleeting reference to it (chap. 72.14). Hooker's final section, concern- 
ing the ministry and "the power of Ecclesiasticall order" (2:15.10), corre- 
sponds to the Ordinal, "annexed" to the Prayer Book. 

Book V as Part of the Lawes 

While Book V is an exhaustive defense of the Book of Common 
Prayer, it is quite clearly more than that. In arguing the coherence of 
Hooker's Lawes, McGrade saw Books I-IV as establishing fundamental 
philosophical and theological principles for discussing the conflicting 
demands for obedience and reform made upon one another by the 
established church and the dissidents within it. Book V concerns 
"what" is enjoined in the Church of England, concentrating on its 
public ritual in accord with the Book of Common Prayer, while 

8 The Litany followed the Offices in the 1552 Book as well, but in the 1549 
version it followed the Holy Communion. See The First and Second Prayer Books of 
King Edward the Sixth (London, 1910; rpr. 1949), pp. 231, 361. 


Book V 

Books VI— VIII partly concern "how" these public duties are to be 
performed (that is, by episcopal and royal authority). The intention 
is first to prove to the objectors that the public duties prescribed by 
law are acceptable on their merits. This is done, however, not only by 
demonstrating the compatibility of these duties with necessary first 
principles but also by showing their especially apt way of presenting 
Christianity in "the ordinary world of common experience, times and 
places, ordinary language and common values." Book V, then, oper- 
ates on the level of concrete and customary practices, in contrast to 
the intellectual emphases of Books I— IV and the legal concerns of 
Books VI— VIII. The advantage of McGrade's interpretation is that, 
without divorcing the book from its polemical context or from Hook- 
er's own statements of intention, it ascribes unified, broad, and sys- 
tematic significance to it. Thus Hooker's aim was not merely to ward 
off whatever particular objections might be in the air against the pre- 
scribed practices but to provide a positive exposition of those practices 
by showing that in the forms of the Prayer Book "True Religion" 
could indeed be the "roote of all true virtues and the stay of all well ordered 
commonwealthes" (1.1; 2:16.1-2). 

The Question of Revision 

The constructive character of Hooker's argument in Book V may 
be easier to appreciate if we take into account that the book was 
originally planned to be shorter and less occupied with detailed 
polemics. Years ago Hardin Craig suggested that the last four books 
of the Lawes were revised under the impact of criticism of them in the 
form they had attained in 1592-1593. W. Speed Hill has argued that 
the pressure was applied to get Hooker to prepare a more complete, 

"The Public and the Religious in Hooker's Polity" p. 419. Elsewhere McGrade 
has said: "In Book V . . . Hooker canvassed from a devotional viewpoint the main 
dimensions of existence: space and time, knowledge and desire, and the immediate 
presence of God. In each case he emphasized the aspects of Anglican practice that tied 
it in with the conditions and rhythms of common life" {An Abridged Edition, p. 26). 

"The Public and the Religious in Hooker's Polity" pp. 410, 416. 

See the discussion of the Lawes" composition, pp. 37—51, above. 



detailed, and concretely polemical defense of the Prayer Book and its 
ceremonies against the objections of the Puritans. Thus, by the 
time of its publication in 1597 Book V had grown to be seven times 
the average length of the first four books. Most likely it was Edwin 
Sandys, son of the archbishop of York, George Cranmer, grand- 
nephew of the late archbishop of Canterbury, and possibly John 
Whitgift, archbishop of Canterbury, who so criticized Book V and 
prompted its expansion. There is a hint of as much in Cranmer's 
Concerning the New Church Discipline, an Excellent Letter to Hooker, 
traditionally dated 1598 (after the publication of Book V) but now 
dated as before the publication of the Preface and Books I— IV in early 
1593 (see p. 44, n. 92, above). Cranmer's desire that Hooker pay 
attention to the dangers posed by "the cursed crew of Atheists" 
suggests that Hooker accordingly either added chapter 2 to Book V or 
expanded it. Cranmer also urged that Hooker deal forthrightly with 
the Brownists or Barrowists, and Hooker seems to have added cita- 
tions from Henry Barrow as a consequence (see, for example, chap. 
12.1). The reference to Hacket and his "conspiracy" may have also 
been in response to Cranmer's reference to "Certain Prophets," 
meaning Hacket, Coppinger, and Arthington. 

If we assume that in the initial draft Hooker felt a general critique 
of the Puritans' objections to be sufficient without delving into great 
detail in defense of liturgical practices and church customs, then by 
discerning the difference of style and content through the book, we 
may suggest that in its first form Book V consisted of something like 
the following portions of the 1597 edition: 

12 For references to Craig and Hill, see p. 43, n. 88, above, and see 2:xiii, this 

See Introduction to The Preface, pp. 43 flf., above. 

14 See § 6, in 1:36. 15-53. 15.n, below. Cranmer's letter was first printed at Oxford 
in 1642 (Wing C-6826); Walton reprinted it in his 1665 Life of Hooker, as did Keble 

On these groups, see pp. 26 and 35—36, above. 

16 See § 3; compare V.Ded.6 (2:4.2-30). For Hacket, see p. 30, above; also, 
Booty, "Tumult in Cheapside: The Hacket Conspiracy," Historical Magazine of the 
Protestant Episcopal Church, 42.3 (Sept. 1973): 293-317. 

Book V 


Pages in 

Pages in 


in Bk. V 

this edn. 

1597 edn. 












Prayer, Public 













This amounts to roughly seventy folio pages in the 1597 edition as 
compared to forty-eight in Book I and twenty-seven in Book III in 
1593, but we may assume that these chapters were re -written and that 
chapter 2 was added, or at least expanded, in response to Cranmer's 
criticism. But Hooker was not rigidly allotting space to his various 
books. If we compare forty-eight pages for Book I and twenty-seven 
for Book III in the 1593 folio and allow a like proportion between 
Books I and V, the latter could have run about seventy pages in its 
original form. 

There is a possible problem concerning chapters 38 and 69—72, 
which contain essays written in the mode of much of our hypothetical 
first form. I would suggest that they were not in the original because 
on the whole they concern specifics such as we have excluded. The 
subject matter prompted Hooker to write abstractly, laying a founda- 
tion for his more detailed considerations. Chapter 38, concerning 
music, was inserted in relation to the psalms of Morning Prayer, and 
chapters 69—72 may have been inserted in relation to Holy Commun- 
ion because the feasts of the church involve its celebration. 

If we take the twenty-seven chapters listed in the chart above 
(exactly one-third of the eighty-one published in 1597) and seek for 
their design and intent, we find hinges or pivots in two places. Chap- 
ter 50 begins with a transitional sentence: "Instruction and prayer 
whereof wee have hitherto spoken are duties which serve as elementes 
partes or principles to the rest that followe, in which number the 
Sacramentes of the Church are cheife" (2:207.10—12). The chapters 



preceding 50 are concerned with instruction (preaching) and prayer 
(private, but chiefly public) as found in the Book of Common Prayer. 
Chapter 23, "Of Prayer" is another hinge, joining chapters on preaching 
and prayer. Very short (Keble viewed it as one section), it begins: 

Betwene the throne of God in heaven and his Church upon 
earth here militant if it be so that Angels have theire continuall 
intercorse, where should we finde the same more verified then in 
these two ghostlie exercises, the one 'Doctrine', the other 'Prayer'? 
For what is thassemblinge of the Church to learne, but the 
receivinge of Angels descended from above? What to pray, but 
the sendinge of Angels upward? His heavenly inspirations and our 
holie desires are as so many Angels of entercorse and comerce 
betwene God and us. (2:110.7-14) 

Chapter 18, which begins Hooker's discussion of preaching (and 
catechizing as a kind of preaching), refers to the "commerce to be had 
betwene God and us" (2:65.7—8) and discusses preaching broadly as 
public instruction and transmission of knowledge. In chapter 18 
Hooker limits himself to catechizing, but we know that he also had in 
mind the reading of Scripture and formal preaching in and of itself. 
The chapter may very well have been longer in the hypothesized 
original version, or the discussion may have reached to more than one 

The reference to "commerce to be had betwene God and us" 
occurs in a sentence that begins: "Places of publique resorte beinge 
thus provided for, our repaire thether is especiallie for mutuall confer- 
ence and as it were commerce ..." (18.1; 2:65.6—7). This refers back 
to the heading for chapter 11 on "Places for the publique service of God" 
(2:47.12). Chapter 10 ends: "And so from rules of generall direction 
it resteth that now we descend to a more distinct explication of par- 
ticulars wherein those rules have theire speciall efficacie" (2:47.9—11). 

The structure now emerges more clearly. The discussion of public 
religious duties begins with an introduction establishing "rules of 
generall direction." We then move to particulars, to the place of 
worship, to the commerce there between God and us (preaching and 
prayer), and then to the sacraments, which follow from preaching and 
prayer, both being inherent in the sacraments, while the sacraments 
provide another setting for saving commerce. Sacraments go beyond 


Book V 

commerce, however, to participation, being instruments for the union 
of the soul with God. What becomes apparent is that Hooker has been 
building all along toward the most substantial portion of the book. 
Through an exposition of the Word in doctrine with the response of 
prayer, he has prepared the way for his presentation of the sacraments. 
Chapter 50, which begins Hooker's discussion of the sacraments by 
pointing back to his treatment of the Word, also points forward to the 
concluding portion of Book V on the ministry. Thus, after the first 
sentence, cited above as transitional, Hooker continues: 

The Church is to us that verie mother of our new birth in whose 
bowels wee are all bredd, at whose brestes wee receyve nour- 
ishment. As many therefore as are apparentlie to our judgment 
born of God, they have the seede of theire regeneration by the 
ministerie of the Church, which useth to that ende and purpose 
not only the word but the sacramentes, both havinge generative 
force and vertue. (2:207.13-19) 

Hooker's discussion of the ministry in chapter 76 is entitled, "Of the 
nature of that ministerie which serveth for performance of divine duties in the 
Church of God, and how happines not eternall only but also temporall doth 
depend upon it" (2:413.20-23). Referring back to chapter 1.2-4, 
Hooker reiterates the basic contention of his introductory chapters, as 
he puts it in chapter 76, that "everie mans religion is in him the well- 
spring of all other sound and sincere vertues" (2:414.6—7). He is 
convinced "that without the worke of the ministerie religion by no 
meanes can possiblie continewe" (2:414.22—23; and see 423.12—14). 
Hooker then proceeds to justify the power and authority of the 
ordained ministry and to contend that it comes from God, not men: 
"Whether wee preach, pray, baptise, communicate, condemne, give 
absolution, or whatsoever, as disposers of Gods misteries, our wordes, 
judgmentes, actes and deedes, are not oures but the holie Ghostes" 
(77.8; 2:430.19-22). 

Writing to defend the Book of Common Prayer against its objec- 
tors, Hooker constructs a tightly reasoned argument whose thesis is 
that religion is necessary to the well-being of a commonwealth. The 
virtues that provide such well-being are dependent upon the perform- 
ance of public religious duties. Such duties involve that participation 
in Christ, or union of the soul with God, the fruit of the commerce 



between God and His people. Such commerce consists in God-given 
doctrine (instruction and preaching) and the human response in prayer, 
resulting in a Christian life begun and sustained by grace received in 
and through the sacraments. Since such public duties are necessary for 
the good of the commonwealth, the ordained ministry God has 
authorized and empowered to administer them is likewise necessary to 
the well-being of the commonwealth. 

What does all this have to do with the defense of the Book of 
Common Prayer, whose use within the church was the law of the 
land and which the Puritans proposed to replace? One can imagine 
Sandys, Cranmer, and Whitgift asking just such a question. At the end 
of chapter 4, before discussing "rules of generall direction" (10.2; 
2:47.9) as contained in "Fower generall propositions" (chap. 5, title), 
Hooker says that both those defending the Book of Common Prayer 
and those attacking it wish "to have lawes and ordinances such, as 
maie rightlie serve to abolish superstition and to establish the service of 
God with all thinges thereunto appertaininge in some perfect forme" 
(4.3; 2:31.4—7). Both sides acknowledge the necessity of religion to the 
commonwealth, and both agree on the necessity of an "inward rea- 
sonable" worship of God. They disagree over the "sollemne outward 
serviceable worship," which is "whatsoever belongeth to the Church 
or publique societie of God by way of externall adoration" (2:31.7— 
13). But even there, insofar as "preceptes divine" are involved, they 
do not disagree. Their quarrel concerns "thinges of inferior regard," 
imposed "by ordinances as well humane as divine." Hooker con- 

the crime now intended against us is that our lawes have not 
ordered those inferior thinges as behoveth, and that our customes 
are either superstitious or otherwise amisse, whether wee respect 
the exercise of publique duties in religion or the functions of 
persons authorised thereunto. (2:31.15—23) 

Hooker then proceeds to set forth the Puritan rules: that in outward 
things of worship the practice of the Church of Rome should be 
avoided, that all should conform to the practice of the earliest church, 
and that nothing "devised or abused unto superstition" should be used (5.1; 
2:32.5-10). Over against these, Hooker sets his own: reasonableness, 


Book V 

antiquity, church authority, and dispensation (equity). Hooker is 
convinced that if such rules are taken seriously, as they are in the 
Preface to the Prayer Book and in the essay "Of Ceremonies" and 
thus in the rest, the Book of Common Prayer will be justified without 
the need for any alterations. It is not necessary to enter into a multi- 
tude of specific objections as set forth in the Admonition and in Cart- 
wright's defense of it. It is preferable to stand back and regard the 
overall shape and meaning of the public duties provided for by law. 

Sandys and Cranmer, and perhaps Whitgift as well — the book is 
dedicated to him — evidently persuaded Hooker to alter his strategy, to 
deal with the specific objections of the Puritans, and to do so at 
considerable length. He may have done this reluctantly, however, for 
it would seem reasonable to suggest that Hooker was satisfied with his 
first effort, confident that by meeting the Puritans on common ground 
(the necessity of true religion for the well-being of the common- 
wealth) and arguing that, as they agreed as well on the substance of 
religion, they need not be enemies over the externals of worship, 
especially such things in the Book of Common Prayer as conformed 
to the rules of reasonableness, antiquity, church authority, and equi- 

ty- 17 

Hooker's discussion of the place of worship and of the content of 
public worship in England, the commerce between God and man and 
their mutual participation through Word and Sacrament administered 
by those authorized and empowered by God, was meant to demon- 
strate that the Prayer Book adhered to these rules. Hooker acknowl- 
edged that his opponents were reasonable and intelligent. They should 
be fully capable, as learned clerics of the Church of England, of 
applying such rules to the objections expressed by the Admonitioners. 

Religion in the Commonwealth 

Viewed from this perspective, Book V is a circle whose circumfer- 
ence is the commonwealth and whose center is the concept of 

On the issue of "things indifferent" (adiaphora), see Introduction to Book I, pp. 
85—86, above. 



participation. That both emphases are also present in the Prayer Book 
explains and confirms Hooker's stature as its foremost interpreter and 

The Book of Common Prayer came into being in 1549 at a time 
when there was a concerted movement to reform the commonwealth. 
The so-called Commonwealth-Men, including Edward Seymour, 
Protector Somerset (1506?— 1552), Sir James Hales (d. 1554), and 
Thomas Smith (1513—1577), were disturbed that avaricious gentry 
were engaged in self-serving practices, such as enclosures and rack- 
renting, which contributed to the growing number of the poor and 
exacerbated their wretched plight. Corrective measures were insti- 
gated, including the formation of commissions of inquiry and the 
drafting of parliamentary legislation. Propaganda was forthcoming, 
most forcefully in the sermons of Hugh Latimer, Thomas Lever, and 
Thomas Becon, warning of the eternal consequences awaiting those 
guilty of such social evils. In 1549 a rebellion broke out in Cornwall 
and Devonshire, followed by another in East Anglia, aimed at cor- 
recting these abuses. Their leaders were fundamentally conservative, 
seeking for a restoration of the old ways and protesting against the 
reform of the church, especially the banning of the familiar Mass for 
the sake of a strange new order of worship. 

In response to Kett's rebellion in East Anglia, Archbishop Cranmer 
preached a sermon in which he recognized the "two destructions of 
the commonwealth," the covetousness of those who "inclose and 
possess unjustly the commons" and the mutinous behavior of those 
commoners who "will be both the hearers, judges, and reformers of 
their own causes." The root cause of the trouble was that "the 
gospel of God now set forth in the whole realm is of many so hated, 
that it is reject, refused, reviled, and blasphemed" (p. 197). Cranmer 
was referring to the Word of God in preaching, in daily offices, and in 
sacraments, which, devoutly received, is expressed "in one's manners 

18 See W. K.Jordan, Edward VI: The Young King (Cambridge: Harvard University 
Press, 1968), esp. chaps. 10-15. 

Thomas Cranmer, Miscellaneous Writings, ed. J. E. Cox, PS (Cambridge, 1846), 
p. 196. On the rebellions see Jordan, Edward VI, pp. 439 ff., and Frances Rose-Toup, 
The Western Rebellion, 1549 (London, 1913), chap. 14. 


Book V 

and living" (p. 198). The devout reception of the Word was viewed 
in terms of "true and faithful repentance." Repentance, which con- 
cerns personal salvation, "is a sorrow conceived for sins committed, 
with hope and trust to obtain remission by Christ, with a firm and 
effectual promise of amendment, and to alter all things that have been 
done amiss" (p. 201), such as (one might conclude) that done by 
gentry who enclose and by commoners who revolt. Having thus 
repented, the Christian was prepared for participation in Christ, who, 
in the Holy Communion, "he spiritually receiveth and continueth that 
life that is toward God" (p. 173). 

The Book of Common Prayer was structured with this concern for 
the commonwealth in mind. Cranmer wrote to the rebels in Devon: 
"in the English service appointed to be read there is nothing else but 
the eternal Word of God" (p. 180). In accordance with his under- 
standing of the Word, Cranmer insisted on repentance, especially in 
Holy Communion where communion with God involves communion 
with one's neighbors. Participation in Christ, the purpose and end of 
both Baptism and Holy Communion, requires self-examination and 
reconciliation with those whom the would-be participant has 
wronged. Holy Communion brings the inhabitants of a geograph- 
ical segment of the commonwealth (the parish) together to repent, 
with thanksgiving for divine forgiveness, and to receive, gathered 
around the common table, the Body and Blood of the Lord "in 
perfect charitie." 

Hooker's understanding of the Book of Common Prayer is in 
agreement with Cranmer's. The Prayer Book provides for the "public 
religious duties" necessary to the well-being of the commonwealth. In 
Book I, Hooker describes the genesis of government in terms of the 
need for protection against wickedness and malice and for the pursuit 
of the happy life (chap. 10.1-3). 22 In Book VIII Hooker explains that 

See the rubric in the 1549 Prayer Book, in F. E. Brightman, The English Rite 
(London, 1915), 2:638, and the Exhortation, 2:652-656, and see Booty, "Preparation 
for the Lord's Supper in Elizabethan England," Anglican Theological Review, 49:2 (April 
1967): 131-148. 

21 See B.C.P. 1559, p. 258, and Booty, "The Prayer Book and the Idea of 
Communion," ibid., pp. 368—372. 

Two classical views of the origins of government, reflected in Hooker's 



the end of societies is "living well," which involves preferring spiritual 
to temporal things and pre-eminently, among spiritual things, religion 
(chap. 1.4). In Book I he explains the necessity of religion by con- 
tending, as had Augustine of Hippo, that government is a result of the 
Fall, that human nature is "disabled," and that men stand in need of 
that supernatural law which teaches not only supernatural duties but 
also "such naturall duties as coulde not by light of nature easilie have 
bene knowne" (12.3; 1:122.4—5). Book V, therefore, recognizes the 
Book of Common Prayer as the essential means whereby the com- 
monwealth may achieve its intended end: the happy life, the life well 
lived, protected against wickedness and malice and enlightened as to 
the true nature of public duties, religious and natural. 

In both the beginning of the book (chaps. 1—4) and at its end (chap. 
76) Hooker emphasizes that religion is the source of every individual's 
true virtue. Such virtue every commonwealth must realize in practice 
if it is to fulfill its social purpose, for religion must be the public 
concern of the commonwealth as well as the private concern of the 
individual. The Book of Common Prayer is the appointed instrument 
"to help that imbecillitie and weakenes in us" (25.1; 2:113.22—23). 
The sacraments are "morall instrumentes of salvation" (57.4; 2:246.28- 
29), "causes instrumentall" (67.5; 2:334.18) of that participation in 
Christ whereby "such effectes as beinge derived from both natures of 
Christ reallie into us are made our own" (56.10; 2:242.21-22) con- 
veying "a true actuall influence of grace whereby the life which wee 
live accordinge to godlines is his, and from him wee receave those 
perfections wherein our eternall happines consisteth" (2:243.1—4). 
Those who participate in Christ by means of the sacraments not only 
attain to perfection and happiness, but they do so together, all being 
"coupled everie one to Christ theire head and all unto everie particu- 
lar person amongst them selves" (56.11; 2:243.18-19). 

That this social dimension of Hooker's defense of the Book of 
Common Prayer has not seemed obvious to recent scholars is rooted 

discussion of the same, are those of Aristotle (Politics 1.1.1—12) and Cicero (Pro Sestio, 
chap. 42). See Joannes Ferrarius (Montanus), A Woorke . . . touchynge the good orderynge 
of a common weak, trans. William Bavande (London: Jhon Kingston for Jhon Wight, 
1559; STC 10831), p. ll b for Cicero and p. 14 b for Aristode. 


Book V 

in a difference in perception that divides the sixteenth century from 
our own. The closest possible relationship between church and com- 
monwealth existed for Hooker and his contemporaries. Although 
sometimes perceived as distinct, as in the distinction between civil and 
ecclesiastical law, together they constituted a single unified society; 
they were not, as some Puritans argued, two distinct corporations 
(VIII. 1.2). The same Englishmen were members of both "polities" 
within the one "politic society," and in consequence of the Fall the 
commonwealth was viewed as incapable of functioning properly to 
realize its ends without the church. The church contributed to the 
health of the commonwealth, providing knowledge of necessary 
duties, supernatural and natural, the cultivation of virtue, and the 
fostering of that community of mutual participation which proleptical- 
ly realizes the fullness of the Kingdom of God on earth. This was 
widely understood in the sixteenth century, and Hooker was writing 
to those whom he believed possessed or should possess such a funda- 
mental understanding. He was also writing with some awareness that 
the Calvinism of the Puritans threatened such an understanding, 
emphasizing as it did the radical separation of the sacred and the 


The Concept of Participation 

The second focal point concerns the concept of participation, the 
philosophical-theological key to Hooker's theology in Book V. 25 
Chapter 56 is the theological heart of the book, culminating a long 
Christological section (chaps. 51-55) and introducing the chapters which 
follow on the sacraments. It begins with a definition: "Participation is 

See Cargill Thompson, "The Philosopher of the 'Politic Society,'" S.R.H., pp. 
3-76; rpr. Studies in the Reformation, pp. 131-191. 

For two lively discussions of Calvin's "new order" and the "old order" of the 
Anglican defenders of the Book of Common Prayer, see David Little, Religion, Order, 
and Law: A Study in Pre-Revolutionary England, chaps. 3-5, and Michael Walzer, The 
Revolution of the Saints: A Study in the Origins of Radical Politics (Cambridge: Harvard 
University Press, 1965), chaps. 2 and 5. 

See Loyer, "La Participation," 1:371-379. 



that mutuall inward hold which Christ hath of us and wee of him, in 
such sort that ech possesseth other by waie of speciall interest propertie 
and inherent copulation" (2:234.29-31). By "participation" Hooker 
does not mean fusion, absorption, or deification (6e6cn<;), nor does he 
refer to a casual relationship or kinship (auvy£via). What he means 
is indicated in chapter 23 when he writes of the "continuall inter- 
corse" of Angels, descending from heaven with doctrine ("heavenly 
inspirations") and ascending with prayer ("holie desires"). In this 
context participation has to do with a mutual, dynamic relationship. In 
the sermon Of Pride he speaks of "the difference between Christ on 
earth and Christ in us" as being "no lesse then between a ship on the 
sea and in the mind of him that builded it: the one a sensible thing the 
other a meere shape of a thing sensible" (5:327.13—16, this edn., citing 
a passage from Gregory of Nazianzus). Thus he would guard against 
what he saw to be an insidious conjecture, resulting in a merger of the 
divine and the human so that the one or the other was — or both 
were — lost in the creation of some monstrous tertium quid. 

Hooker's understanding of participation is related to two passages of 
Scripture employing two Greek words properly translated "partici- 
pation." The first is 1 Cor. 10:16 where the word is KOivcovia, 
which, in an important section on the Eucharist, Hooker, following 
the Geneva Bible, translates as "communion" (chap. 67.5). But in the 
same discussion he goes on to explain that by " 'the communion of my 
bodie' " what is meant is that the bread received is instrumental in "the 
participation of his boodie." We have here a cause-and-effect relation- 
ship wherein the faithful receiver is changed, "quickned to eternall 
life," by receipt of the body of Christ (2:334.12-13, 19, 23). Hooker 
subsequently refers to the belief that the bread and wine are consecrat- 
ed and therefore become "such instrumentes as mysticallie yeat trulie, 
invisiblie yeat reallie worke our communion or fellowship [KOivcovia] 
with the person of Jesus Christ as well in that he is man as God" (§ 
11; 2:339.3-6). 

The second New Testament passage is from John 6, and in partic- 
ular verse 56 where Jesus is quoted as saying: "He that eateth my flesh, 
and drinketh my blood, dwelleth [fievei, participates] in me, and I in 
him." The Greek word here is (fi£vco), meaning to abide in or be in 
union with, in the sense that as the Father and the Son are joined by 


Book V 

a community of life, so likewise Christians share in Christ's life as well 
as in his works. With ^l£v(D we approach as near as is safe to union 
between Christ and the faithful. This is the "mysticall communion" 
(2:340.11) that involves the deification of human nature, not turning 
human nature into deity, but making our nature the Deity's "owne 
inseparable habitation" (54.5; 2:224.15). 

What are the fruits of such participation? Not only the benefits of 
sharing in Christ's life and thus in eternal life, but also that "grace of 
unction" whereby human nature is replenished "with all such perfec- 
tions as the same is anie waie apt to receive" (54.6; 2:224.19, 225.1—2) 
including knowledge and "all maner graces and vertues" (2:225.14). 
By this participation, initiated by God, Christians are incorporated 

into that societie which hath him for theire head and doth make 
together with him one bodie . . . for which cause by vertue of 
this mysticall conjunction wee are of him and in him even as 
though our verie flesh and bones should be made continuate 
with his. (56.7; 2:238.30-239.5) 

And in a passage heavily influenced by Johannine theology, Hooker 

And his Church he frameth out of the verie flesh, the verie 
wounded and bleedinge side of the Sonne of man. His bodie 
crucified and his blood shed for the life of the world, are the true 
elementes of that heavenlie beinge, which maketh us such as him 
selfe is of whome wee com. For which cause the wordes of 
Adam may be fitlie the wordes of Christ concerninge his Church, 
Flesh of my flesh and bone of my bones, a true native extract out of 
mine owne bodie. (2:239.22-29) 27 

See chap. 67.1 and Booty, et al., The Spirit of Anglicanism (Wilton, Conn.: 
Morehouse-Barlow, 1979), pp. 17—18. For a different point of view, see A. M. 
Allchin, Participation in God (ibid., 1988), pp. 8-12. 

Compare this passage with chap. 67.12 (2:343.6—26), drawn from Goulart in his 
edition of Cyprian, on which see below, p. 217. 




A further clue to Hooker's meaning is provided by Book VI where 
it is pointed out 

that the cheifest cause of spirituall jurisdiction is to provide for 
the health and safety of mens soules, by bringing them to see and 
repent their grievous offenses committed against God, as alsoe to 
reforme all injuries, offered with the breach of Christian love, 
and charitie towards their brethren, in matters of Ecclesiasticall 
cognizance (3.1; 3:6.12-17) 

Participation involves the working of "repentance in the hart of man" 
by God's grace, wherein the human contribution consists of allowing 
the free operation of the divine grace of repentance (3.2; 3:7.22-8.3). 
That is what is meant by "a kind of transubstantiation in us, a true 
change both of soule and bodie, an alteration from death to life" 
(67.11; 2:339.7—340.1). It is nothing less than contrition, confession, 
absolution, and satisfaction or penance; or, to put it another way, it is 
the replenishment or restoration of finite, fallen human nature toward 
that condition which obtained at its first creation. 

Thus participation involves another important New Testament 
concept, that of nex&voia, of turning, returning, repentance and 
conversion. For Jesus in the Synoptic Gospels uex&voioc is a turning 
from sin toward God. This turning is required of all that would follow 
Him and enter the Kingdom of God, inheriting eternal life. According 
to Mark, Jesus's preaching began in Galilee with the Gospel of God: 
"The time is fulfilled, the Kingdom of God is at hand, repent (uexot- 
voeixn) and believe the gospel" (Mark 1:15). This turning affects the 
core of a person, beginning with the depths of the individual being 
and then reaching out to affect that individual's social conduct. 

In sixteenth-century theological writings the emphasis on repent- 
ance often seems negative, the denial of evil thoughts and actions, but 
in the New Testament such repentance is regarded as God's gift, an 
act of grace, initiating renewal and joyous obedience to the divine 
will. Hooker stresses this positive understanding of repentance: 

See Gerhard Kittel, TTieological Dictionary of the New Testament, trans. G. W. 
Bromiley (Grand Rapids, Mich.: Wm. B. Eerdmans, 1967-76), 4:1007-1008. 


Book V 

feare worketh noe mans inclination to repentance, till somewhat 
else have wrought in us love alsoe. Our love and desire of union 
with God, ariseth from the strong conceite which wee have of 
his admirable goodnes. The goodnes of God, which particularly 
mooveth unto repentance, is his mercie towards mankind, not- 
withstanding sinne. For lett it once sinke deepely into the minde 
of man, that howsoever wee have injuried God, his verie nature 
is averse from revenge, except unto sinne wee adde obstinacie, 
otherwise allwayes readie to accept our submission, as a full 
discharge or recompence for all wrongs; and can wee chuse butt 
beginne to love him, whome wee have offended, or can wee 
butt beginne to greeve, that wee have offended him whome wee 
now love? (VI.3.3; 3:9.24-10.4) 

The two foci, commonwealth and participation, the political-histor- 
ical and the philosophical-theological, merge. Participation involves 
that repentance and amendment of life which serve to perfect the 
individuals who comprise the commonwealth. The commonwealth 
protects and assists true religion by providing by law a Prayer Book 
such as cultivates the virtues of participation in Christ. The purpose of 
the Holy Communion, according to John Jewel's homily in the Second 
Book of Homilies (1563), is to show Christ's sacrifice with thanksgiving: 
to show forth that oneness of life involves "not only our communion 
with Christ, but that unity also, wherein they that eat at this table 
should be knit together." Jewel concludes: 

as there is here the mystery of peace, and the sacrament of chris- 
tian society, whereby we understand what sincere love ought to 
be betwixt the true communicants; so here be the tokens of 
pureness and innocency of life, whereby we may perceive that 
we ought to purge our own soul from all uncleanness, iniquity, 
and wickedness .... 

Both Jewel and Hooker understood, as had Cranmer, that the basic 
thrust of the Book of Common Prayer was its reiterated insistence 

Certain Sermons or Homilies appointed to be Read in Churches in the Time of Queen 
Elizabeth (London, [1864]), pp. 481, 482-483. On Jewel's authorship see J. Griffiths, 
Two Books of Homilies (Oxford, 1859), p. xxxiv. 



upon repentance and renewal. The health and survival of the com- 
monwealth depended upon the seriousness with which citizens in 
every parish of England responded to the invitation to confession: 

You that doe truly and earnestly repente you of youre synnes, 
and bee in love and charitie with your neighbours, and entende 
to leade a newe lyfe, folowynge the commaundments of god, and 
walking from henceforth in his holie waies: Drawe nere and take 
this holy Sacramente to youre comfort: make your humble 
confession to almightie god, before this congregacion here gath- 
ered together in his holy name, mekely knelyng upon your 

i 30 


The Principle of Correspondence 

That the Prayer Book thus provides for the health and survival of 
the commonwealth argues that the laws enforcing its use are both just 
and good. Furthermore, by focusing on participation (with repentance 
as a necessary corollary), the Prayer Book avoids superstition, the 
abhorrence or observance of things "with a zealous or fearefull, but 
erroneous relation to God," with the result that often others are given 
those honors "as properlie are his" (3.2; 2:28.17, 20-21). The Puritans 
would dismiss 

our prayers, our sacrementes, our fastes, our tymes and places of 
publique meetinge together for the worship and service of God, 
our mariages, our burials, our functions, elections and ordinations 
ecclesiasticall, allmost whatsoever wee doe in the exercise of our 
religion accordinge to lawes for that purpose established, . . . [as] 
thinges stained with superstition. (4.1; 2:30.18-24) 

On the contrary, the Prayer Book worship of God is reasonable, it is 
supported by the judgment of antiquity and by the just authority of 
the church itself, and it is not rigid, for dispensation is granted where 
necessary. Attention must be fixed on the way in which ritual and 
ceremony mirror what is good and true: 

30 First and Second Prayer Books of Edward VI, p. 386; B.C.P., 1559, p. 259. 


Book V 

That which inwardlie each man should be, the Church outward- 
lie ought to testifie. And therefore the duties of our religion 
which are seene must be such as that affection which is unseen 
ought to be. Signes must resemble the thinges they signifie. If 
religion beare the greatest swaie in our hartes, our outwarde 
religious duties must show it, as farre as the Church hath out- 
warde habilitie. Duties of religion performed by whole societies 
of men, ought to have in them accordinge to our power a sensi- 
ble excellencie, correspondent to the majestie of him whome we 
worship. Yea then are the publique duties of religion best or- 
dered, when the militant Church doth resemble by sensible 
meanes, as it maie in such cases, that hidden dignitie and glorie 
wherewith the Church triumphant in heaven is bewtified. (6.2; 

It is this outward representation of the inward reality for which 
Hooker is most concerned. The principle of the correspondence 
between the two, fundamental to this mode of thought, necessitates 
Hooker's discussion of the terms of dispensation or equity. The 
relationship of correspondence must be the center of attention, not 
particulars that are in themselves simply instruments for the represen- 
tation of the unseen in the seen. It is by means of correspondence that 
the consecrated elements in the Holy Communion are "such instru- 
mentes as mysticallie yeat trulie, invisiblie yeat reallie worke our com- 
munion or fellowship with the person of Jesus Christ" (67.11; 2:339. 
3—5). So long as that correspondence exists in the Holy Communion 
and elsewhere in the principal parts or movements of the Prayer Book, 
there can be no superstition. The Prayer Book is not absolutely free of 
possibility of superstition, but there is nothing in it that is necessarily 
superstitious, for superstition arises from the zeal or fear of the wor- 
shipper, and the Prayer Book provides the correspondence that results 
in true worship and virtuous behavior where the worshipper is proper- 
ly contrite. 

Here Hooker rests his case. If he entered into the particularities in 
the first draft, they are, in fact, illustrations or applications of these 
principles. If, as I judge more likely, the particularities are his response 
to the demands of his critics, he did so with the firm conviction that 



such expansion carried out the logical consequences of those princi- 
ples, even if the resulting detail of the expansion has admittedly 
created obstacles for those in the post-Christian West who seek to read 
and to understand this book. 


ti. Hooker's Sources 


If frequency of citation is a sufficient gauge, then the Holy Bible 
must be accounted Hooker's chief source in Book V, as it was in 
Book I (see p. 91, above). He specifically cites biblical passages 524 
times, 195 from the Old Testament, 329 from the New, and 17 from 
the Apocrypha. Moreover, steeped as he was in Scripture, Hooker 
often uses biblical language and quotes biblical passages without 
acknowledgment. He cites passages from most of the Old Testa- 
ment books, most frequently Psalms (24 times) and Isaiah (18). He 
makes use of all of the New Testament (excepting the Second and 
Third Epistles of John), chiefly Matthew (33), Luke (22), John (50), 
Acts (34), 1 Corinthians (28), and Ephesians (22). Prominent out of 
proportion to their length are 1 Timothy (13) and Hebrews (19). He 
normally uses the Geneva Bible when quoting the Old Testament, but 
usually translates himself from the Greek or the Vulgate when quoting 
from the New. 


Modern studies of Book V include Francis Paget, An Introduction to the Fifth 
Book of Hooker's Treatise of the Laws of Ecclesiastical Polity (Oxford, 1899; 2nd edn., 
1907); Ronald Bayne, ed., The Fifth Book (London, 1902); F. A. C. Youens, Analysis 
of Hooker's Ecclesiastical Polity: Book ^(London, 1912); and J. S. Marshall, Hooker's 
Theology of Common Prayer: The Fifth Book of the Polity Paraphrased and Expanded into 
a Commentary on the Book of Common Prayer (Sewanee, Tenn.: University Press of the 
University of the South, 1956). 

Hooker's references to Scripture were indexed in Keble (3:713-729) and they 
are listed below in the ISR; compare the ISR, 5:851-909, this edn. 

He does not cite Amos, Exodus, Habakkuk, Lamentations, Nahum, Ruth, Song 
of Solomon, or Zephaniah. 

Concerning translations, see chap. 19.2-3 (2:68.16-70.20). That Hooker may 


Book V 


Thomas Cartwright's three volumes in defense of the 1572 Admo- 
nitions to the parliament represent another significant source. 35 Hook- 
er cites Cartwright often and usually in those chapters described above 
as being added by Hooker at the suggestion of Cranmer and Sandys. 
By implication, the use of Cartwright's books suggests the use of 
Whitgift's refutation of the Admonitions, together with his response to 
Cartwright. Hooker never explicitly refers to Whitgift's works, but he 
must have consulted them often, for the agreement of Hooker's 
arguments with those found in Whitgift's 1574 Defense of the Aunswere 
is evident. The polemical situation required Hooker to cite Cart- 
wright, not Whitgift, to whom Hooker had paid his dues in the 
Dedication. Add to the Cartwright volumes three other related 
items — the Admonitions themselves, the Puritan prayer book, A Booke 
of the Forme of Common Prayer (1584/5; STC 16567-69), and Walter 
Travers's Ecclesiasticae disciplinae . . . explicatio, translated into English by 
Cartwright — and Hooker had all that he needed in order to obtain 
authoritative citations from the Puritans of his day. 

Other contemporary Puritan sources Hooker cites include An 
Abstract, of Certain Acts of Parliament (1583; STC 10394), published 
anonymously, and the separatist Henry Barrow's A Briefe Discouerie of 
the False Church (1591?; STC 1517), six times each, and the tracts of 
Martin Marprelate and other writings in the genre, four times (see pp. 
24—25 and n. 42, above). John Rainolds's De Romanae ecclesiae idolola- 
tria (1596; STC 20606) is cited once. There are few direct references 
to the works of the continental Reformers. Hooker did use the 
Harmonia confessionum fidei five times (1586; STC 5155), an epistle of 
Beza's, and 

have used the Vulgate for Old Testament passages on occasion is suggested by his 
reference to "1 reg." in the note to chap. 12.3 (2:52.i): neither the Geneva Bible nor 
the Bishops Bible has such a designation. 

They are listed above, pp. 71—72, n. 152. 

Cargill Thompson states: "Hooker's argument was basically an extension of 
Whitgift's" (S.R.H., p. 24; Studies in the Reformation, p. 151). 

For a citation of the first Admonition, see chap. 64, head-note (2:293.2). 



Sibrand Lubbert's De principiis Christianorum dogmatum, but he makes 
no direct references to the writings of Luther or Calvin. 38 

Early Church Fathers and Historians 

Next in terms of the total number of citations are the early church 
Fathers. Out of roughly 300 citations, one third are to an awesome 
triumvirate: Tertullian (40), Augustine (32), and Cyprian (32), the 
latter including the wrongly attributed De coena Domini, discussed 
below. There follow Theodoret (21), Jerome (16), Basil of Caesarea 
(13), Gregory of Nazianzus (12), Irenaeus (11), Cyril of Alexandria (9), 
Leo I (9), and Ambrose of Milan (7). The remaining citations are 
distributed among twenty-nine other authors with Hilary of Poitiers, 
John Damascene, Isidore of Seville, John Chrysostom, Dionysius the 
Areopagite, and Epiphanius among the most prominent. On the 
whole Hooker cites those whom we would expect: he explicitly cites 
Tertullian more often than he does Augustine, although modern 
editors have found more references to the latter in Book V (direct 
citations and others) than to Tertullian. 

In addition, there are the early church historians, most prominently 
Eusebius of Caesarea, Theodoret of Cyrrhus (noted above), Socrates 
Scholasticus, and Sozomen. Also cited are Rufinus, Nicephorus, and 
Sulpicius Severus. Medieval and Reformation historical works cited 
include the Historia tripartita, Bartholomeo Platina's De uitis Pontificum 
Romanorum, and Joseph Scaliger's De emendatione temporum. 

Legal and Non-Christian Sources 

Hooker's use of legal sources embraces both canon and civil law. 
Citations involve ecclesiastical councils (19), the Corpus juris canonici 
(9), and the Apostolic Constitutions (3). Citations involving civil law 

For Hooker's knowledge of Calvin, however, see Egil Grislis, Introduction to 
the Commentary, Tractates and Sermons, 5:631-633, this edn. 

In the "Index of Authorities Quoted," in Keble (3:730, 735), there are forty ci- 
tations of Augustine in Book V to twenty-nine of Tertullian, and in Bayne's index, there 
are fourteen lines of citations from Augustine to eleven from Tertullian (pp. 727, 737). 


Book V 

include the Corpus juris ciuilis, principally the Digest (19) and the Codex 
(8). Hooker also cited Charlemagne's Capitula siue leges ecclesiasticae et 
ciuiles and Lyndewode's Provinciale. This topic deserves further study. 

Hooker's classical, non-Christian sources are numerous, but of more 
than seventy citations, one-third (23) are to Aristotle, as might be 
expected. Next in terms of frequency of citation are Cicero (4), 
Seneca (4), Dio Cassius (3), Dionysius of Halicarnassus (3), Euripides 
(3), and Pliny the Elder (2). 

Citations of medieval works are less numerous. There are six specif- 
ic references to the writings of Thomas Aquinas, principally the 
Summa theologiae (Hooker used the edition of the sixteenth-century 
cardinal Thomas de Vio Cajetanus), but again, as with Augustine, 
the paucity of specific citations is no basis on which to gauge Aqui- 
nas's influence on Hooker. In addition, Hooker cites Hugh of St. 
Victor, Bernard of Clairvaux, Gabriel Biel, Rupert of Deutz, and 
Arnold of Bonneval. 

References to Jewish sources are dominated by Philo Judaeus (12) 
and Josephus's Antiquitates Judaicae (7). There are individual references 
to Moses Maimonides' Director dubitantium aut perplexorum, the Hebrew 
Prayer Book and Catechism, the Thisbites of Elias Levita, and the 

Lexicons and related works of reference cited by Hooker include 
the Etymologicon magnum (1594) and the Lexicons of Alexander Hesy- 
chius and Suidas. 

Undocumented Souces 

Hooker's explicit citations, however, do not fully reveal the sources 
of his ideas and attitudes. He repeatedly consulted the Book of Com- 
mon Prayer and other authoritative English formularies. There are 

40 See Keble, 3:735, and Bayne, p. 726. The Commentary below lists twenty-nine 
references to Aquinas in Book V. 

41 See John S. Marshall, Hooker and the Anglican Tradition, chap. 7; Egil Grislis, 
Introduction to the Commentary, 5:631-632; and Introduction to Book I, p. 92, 

For a specific reference, see chap. 19.4; 2:70.x. 



no specific references to the Thirty-Nine Articles of Religion or the 
two books of Homilies, yet they were in use, authorized and enforced 
by the law of the land. Hooker could hardly have been unmindful of 
them, especially when the Admonitioners or Cartwright made refer- 
ence to them, and he would have looked to the growing collection of 
Articles and Injunctions of Visitation as well, especially those of the 
Royal Visitation of 1559, which continued to be reprinted, enforced, 
and reflected in provincial and diocesan injunctions throughout the 
reign. He would also have had Calvin's Institutes at hand or in mind 
as he wrote, for he certainly knew and used them elsewhere in his 
wri tings. When defending himself against A Christian Letter, he spoke 
highly of Calvin and quoted Luther, Melanchthon, and Bullinger, 
though this material was not published in his lifetime. 

It was not customary for an English apologist to refer frequently to 
English reformers such as Cranmer, Ridley, Latimer, and Jewel, but 
Hooker was well read in their works, as is indicated again by his 
responses to A Christian Letter. We may assume that Hooker was aware 
of the writings of such contemporaries as John Bridges, dean of Salis- 
bury while Hooker was sub-dean, Richard Cosin, who wrote of 
the Hacket conspiracy and against the Puritan Abstract, and Hadrian 
Saravia, Hooker's neighbor in Kent from 1595 until he died. One 
must also consider those whom Hooker knew personally, but who 
influenced him not through their writings but rather through conver- 
sation, colleagues such as John Rainolds and Lancelot Andrewes. 

See Introduction to The Preface, p. 8 and n. 9, above. 
44 For examples, see above, 4:46.15; 55.15-57.12; 57.30-58.6; and 60.8-10, this 

It must be assumed that Hooker knew Bridges' massive A Defence of the 
Government Established in the Church ofEnglande (1587; STC 3734). Whether or not he 
was influenced by it is unclear. It has, however, been referred to in the Commentary 
below as appropriate. See nn to 2:119.11-12, 136:27, 270.14-16, and 303.8-9. 

46 See Conspiracie, for Pretended Reformation (1591; STC 5823), and 2:26.x and n. 
See also An Answer to the first and principall treatises of a certeine factious libell, An Abstract 
. . . (1584; STC 5819.5), referred to in nn to 2:41.7, 472.10-11, 475.p, 478.4, and 

For instance, De diversis ministrorum evangelii gradibus (1590; STC 21746), and 
the English translation (1591; STC 21749). 

See Introduction to The Preface, pp. 53-54, above. 


Book V 

We shall never know the full extent to which Cranmer and Sandys 
were themselves sources upon whom Hooker relied. Above all we 
must take into account the influence of the Book of Common Prayer, 
used daily by Hooker as a priest of the church, with its unending 
round of lessons, canticles and prayers, its sacraments and pastoral 
offices, and above all the ethos which it nurtured. In the end, the 
greatest source and influence on Book V was the very book which 
Hooker set out to defend. 

in. Hooker's Use of Sources 


Hooker argued his main points in Book V on the basis of Scripture. 
Citations to it were fundamental to his task, both because the Puritans' 
first appeal was to Scripture and because he himself regarded Scripture 
as authoritative in all matters pertaining to salvation, the raison d'itre of 
the church whose polity he was defending. Furthermore he regarded the 
Scriptures as a source for discerning natural laws as well, so long as the 
circumstances and intent of particular passages were taken into ac- 
count. That Book V is so very biblical is not surprising in the light of 
Archbishop Cranmer's contention that the Prayer Book Hooker is 
defending is itself largely composed of words, sentences, and chapters 
out of the Bible. 

Hooker's reliance on Scripture is especially evident in those chapters 
where he is concerned to establish the fundamental assumptions of his 
argument. Chapter 56, the central chapter of Book V and an epitome 
of Hooker's theology, provides an excellent example. Here there are 
fifty biblical passages cited, chiefly from the New Testament. Nineteen 
are from the Johannine gospel and epistles, and twenty are from works 
ascribed to the apostle Paul; included are many of the central texts in 
the Christian tradition. Eighteen of the citations are made in the 
course of section 7, where Hooker sets forth his ecclesiology. He has 
asserted that life comes from God by the Son, through the Spirit, and 

See p. 195, above; and see the Preface to the first two editions of the Book of 
Common Prayer (1910 edn.), p. 4. 



he now adds that this occurs in the context of the church. He force- 
fully argues that it is not sufficient to be in Christ by "eternall fore- 
knowledge" (2:238.27—28). We are in Christ "by our actuall incorpo- 
ration [Col. 2:10] into that societie which hath him for theire head 
and doth make together with him one bodie" (2:238.30—239.2). He 
further emphasizes this by asserting that "by vertue of this mysticall 
conjunction wee are of him and in him even as though our verie flesh 
and bones should be made continuate with his [Eph. 5:30]" (2:239.3—5). 
Hooker understands Col. 2:10 ("And ye are compleate in him, which is 
the head of all Principalitie and Power") as referring to Christ's headship 
over the church, rather than to his rule over the vast array of elemental 
spirits (o~TOl5££ia) — "things visible and invisible: whether they be 
Thrones, or Dominions, or Principalities, or Powers . . ." (Col. 1:16) — 
of the whole creation. There follows an explanation that is strongly 
Johannine. The "mysterie of our coherence with Jesus Christ" (2:239. 
19) is documented by reference to John 14:20 ("I am in my Father, and 
you in me, and I in you") and 15:4 ("Abide in me, and I in you: as the 
branche cannot beare frute of it self, except it abide in the vine, no 
more can ye, except ye abide in me"). The key word here is "abide" 
(fjefvare), which can also be translated "participate." 

In chapter 67, his major presentation of his Eucharistic doctrine, 
Hooker begins by citing John 6:53, emphasizing the necessity of 
eating "the flesh of the sonne of man." The assertion, "He that eateth my 
flesh, and drinketh my blood, dwelleth [^£vei] in me, and I in him" 
(v. 56), is a key citation for the New Testament theology of mutual 
participation. But in this chapter, which emphasizes scriptural citations 
up to section 1 1 (at which point citations of the Fathers dominate the 
page; see 2:338-339), Hooker uses 1 Cor. 10:16-17 in which the 
Greek word KOivcavfa conveys the proper understanding of participa- 
tion (67.5; 2:334.11-13). 

Hooker's exegesis, in this his major presentation on participation in 
and through the Eucharist, is carefully done, although it can rightly be 

Hooker is clearly mistaken in this instance. Eph. 5:30 is a more serviceable citation 
("we are members of his bodie"), especially if we accept the addition: "of his flesh, and 
of his bones," in the Geneva Bible, but not now in Revised Standard Version or the 
New English Bible, although accepted by Beare in the Interpreter's Bible. 
S1 6:52 in text (330.5). 


Book V 

called eisegesis in that he understands Paul not so much on Paul's 
terms as in relation to the Eucharistic controversy of the sixteenth 
century. Although Hooker surrounds this crucial interpretation with 
the Words of Institution as found in the synoptic gospels (see Matt. 
26:26-28, Mark 14:22-25, and Luke 22:15-20), he knows that those 
bare texts can be and have been variously interpreted to support 
widely differing theologies. He therefore turns to Paul, "our Lordes 
Apostle," who gives his account of the Words of Institution in 1 Cor. 
11:23—26, for an authoritative gloss. Thus, "this is my bodie" in the 
synoptics and in 1 Cor. 11 means, according to 1 Cor. 10:16—17, "My 
body, 'the communion of my body'." From this follows the conclusion, 
referring to 1 Cor. 10:17: "The bread and cup are his bodie and blood 
because they are causes instrumentall upon the receipt whereof the 
participation of his boodie and bloode ensueth" (2:334.12-13, 17—19). 

In chapter 18.1 Hooker grounds his definition of preaching in two 
passages in Luke (8:39, 12:3), referring to the Greek Kr)puo~acD (the 
simple act of proclamation), which is related to K^piryua (the Gospel 
that is preached), indicating not a formal sermon but the act of com- 
municating the good news of the Gospel. In chapter 23.1 he defines 
prayer in terms of Hosea 14:2 as "calves [=sacrifices] of our lippes," 
Rev. 5:8, "odours" [=incense], and Acts 10:4, "Thy prayers . . . are 
come up into remembrance [=as a memorial] before God." The major 
image of the chapter is that of Genesis 28:12: "Then he [Jacob] 
dreamed, and beholde, there stode a ladder upon the earth and the top 
of it reached up to heaven: and lo, the Angels of God went up and 
downe by it." Prayers are sent up, ascending like incense rising, the 
sacrifices of our lips, in response to the holy inspiration that descends, 
a saving doctrine preached in a variety of ways. Hooker thus rooted 
this fundamental rhythm of preaching and prayer, descent and ascent, 
in Scripture. 

Hooker obviously used Scripture as he understood it. Sometimes, as 
in his interpretation of Col. 2:10 (56.7), we would not now agree with 
him, but others in his day did (see n. 50, above). At other times there 
were strong disagreements between Hooker and his contemporaries 

A more systematic and didactic definition of prayer with no Scripture citations 
is found in chap. 48.2, but even there he uses the image of ascent when saying that 
prayers are "elevations of spirit unto God" (2:189.23-24). 



over the meaning of particular passages. A vivid example is that of 
Hooker's use of John 3:5 in connection with the necessity of baptism 
(see 2:251.5— 252. 26.n). The question is whether or not the reference 
to water and spirit refers to it. If it does, then it is clear that Jesus is 
saying that "except a man be borne of water and of the spirit [that is, 
baptism], he can not enter into the kingdome of God." Cartwright, in 
agreement with Calvin, argued that the reference was not to mate- 
rial water but to "the Spirit of God which clenseth the filth of synne" 
(quoted by Hooker in the head-note to chap. 59; 2:251.17—18). 
Instead, Hooker develops Whitgift's defense of the Church of 
England's teaching, asserting that the literal construction of the scrip- 
tural passage points to "regeneration by water and the holie Ghost" 
(59.2; 2:252. 13-14). 54 Modern scholarship supports Calvin and Cart- 
wright, and the argument has been made that Hooker himself did 
not subscribe to the absolute necessity of baptism in the way it was 
insisted upon in the medieval church. He was, in this place, concerned 
to show that John 3:5 "was a definite barrier to the laxity which 
Puritanism would inevitably encourage." Indeed, it was the inter- 
pretation of this text that prompted Hooker to exclaim, in some 
exasperation: "I holde it for a most infallible rule in expositions of 
sacred scripture, that where a litterall construction will stand, the 
farthest from the letter is commonlie the worst" (2:252.5—7). 

Non-Christian Sources 

Hooker did not ground all his arguments in Scripture. In the first 
chapter of Book V, where he is concerned to establish the necessity of 
"true religion" to the well-being of the commonwealth, he appeals to 

See Calvin's Commentary on the Gospel of John (1961), 1:65. 

54 See Whitgift, Works (PS), 2:521-522. 

55 See Raymond E. Brown, ed., The Gospel According to John, The Anchor Bible 
(Garden City, N.Y.: Doubleday and Company, 1966), 1:141-144, and C. H. Dodd, 
The Interpretation of the Fourth Gospel (Cambridge: The University Press, 1954), pp. 
305, 312. 

56 See G. W. Bromiley, Baptism and the Anglican Reformers (London: Lutterworth 
Press, 1953), pp. 58-59, 63. 


Book V 

Aristotle as witness to the truths of natural religion and political 
science. Thus Aristotle is cited as arguing that the politician must be 
virtuous (Magna moralia, 1.1); that justice inflames men to do good, the 
service rendered to a people being nobler and more divine than that 
rendered to an individual (Nicomachean Ethics, 1.2); and that things 
religiously done result in prosperity, but those who are good and wise 
will take "with dignity whatever fortune sends," making the best of 
the circumstances (1.10). In addition, the Old Testament and Philo 
Judaeus are also cited as witnesses to the natural order of society and 
the necessity of religion. 

At the end of Book V, chapter 76 provides a new beginning and 
points toward Books VI and VII. It starts by appealing to pre-Christian 
sources that all know and acknowledge, whether Christian or not. On 
that basis Hooker proceeds to a discussion of the place of the church's 
ordained ministry in relation to the fundamental well-being of the 
commonwealth. In writing of "good thinges temporall" (2:414.28— 
29). Hooker cites Euripides as saying that our possessions are not 
finally ours but that we hold them as "stewards of the gifts of God" 
(2:41 5. f.n) and that those who prosper do so because their "actions 
. . . have bene orderlie and well guided" (2:415.25). As the chapter 
proceeds, Hooker cites Herodotus, Proverbs, Aristotle, and Euripides 
again. Where Hooker is concerned for what is known through the 
natural order, he cites classical antiquity along with appropriate passag- 
es out of the Old Testament. This is true of the citation of Dionysi- 
us of Halicarnassus testifying as a heathen to the sanctity of the mar- 
riage bond (73.3; 2:402. r) and of Livy and Cicero witnessing to the 
necessity of women being given in marriage by their fathers (73.5; 
2:403. v). Thus, in treating those who despoil the church of her right- 
ful possessions, Hooker cites Virgil, Cicero, and Seneca on the penal- 
ties incurred by those who commit sacrilege (79.16; 2:461. l,m). 

57 The author(s) of A Christian Letter particularly objected to Hooker's use of 
Aristotle and the Schoolmen. See, 4:64.25—67.6, this edn. 



Patristic Sources 

Hooker's use of patristic sources in Book V is not on the whole 
exceptional. He cites them when concerned to demonstrate that 
what he writes is in agreement with godly tradition. This agrees with 
the Anglican understanding of authority as found, for instance, in the 
writings of Jewel and in such public legal documents as 1 Edward VI, 
cap. I. 59 His citations range from a single one (2:153.5) from Basil 
the Great in chapter 38, where Hooker defends the use "Oftnusique 
with psalmes" to a multitude of references to a host of Fathers in those 
chapters concerning the Trinity and Christology (chaps. 51-55), who 
support Hooker's own theological conclusions. 

When the opponent appeals to the early church for support and 
seems to find it, as in the case of "The sumptuousnes of Churches" (chap. 
15), Hooker examines the historical setting and explains away the 
evidence by saying that in a time of persecution there could be no 
richly adorned churches. A sense of historical context is obviously 
needed if the patristic sources are to be rightly understood and used. 
When Cartwright argues a late date for the introduction of the litany 
in the church and states that it was only instituted then for a special 
reason, Hooker summons a host of witnesses to show that it evolved 
from processions for the burial of martyrs, the formal litanies of the 
Eastern Church, and the Rogations of the Western (chap. 41.2). In 
this brief chapter, consisting of four short sections, those cited are 
Tertullian, Jerome, and Basil, the historians Socrates, Sozomen, and 
Theodoret, plus the Novellae of Justinian and the first Council of 
Orange (511 AD). 60 

58 But see William P. Haugaard, "Renaissance Patristic Scholarship and Theology 
in Sixteenth Century England," Sixteenth Century Journal, 10.3 (1979): 37-60, esp. 57- 

59 Concerning Jewel and the Fathers, see Booty, John Jewel as Apologist of the 
Church of England, pp. 130-137. The statute referred to appeals to the tradition of the 
first five hundred years against more recent practice. See also 2 and 3 Edw. VI, cap. 
1, the first Uniformity Act, 1549, which speaks of the Crown's directing certain men 
to devise a Prayer Book "having as well eye and respect to the most sincere and pure 
Christian religion taught by the Scripture as to the usages of the primitive Church." 

60 The citations in chap. 41 are not without problems. Hooker interprets X-ixa- 


Book V 

Hooker does not always exercise the kind of care in his patristic 
references that modern scholars would wish, as can be seen in his 
chapters on the Trinity and Christology. Yet on these central theolog- 
ical issues, Hooker was well read in the Fathers, especially as regards 
the credal affirmations and the conciliar conclusions from Nicaea 
through Chalcedon (chap. 54.10). He was determined to be thorough- 
ly orthodox. He relied, however, quite heavily on Theodoret's Dialogi 
tres, itself containing three florilegia of patristic quotations (see 2:213. 
a.n), for some of his patristic references, most likely deriving more 
from Theodoret than we can now identify. At times he notes the fact; 
for instance, "Gregor. Nyss. apud Theod." at 2:224/and "Theodoret. 
ex Iren. 1.3 adver. hacres." at 2:225. h; at other times he doesn't. Bayne 
located the quotations from Irenaeus and Gregory of Nyssa (2:217. f) 
in Theodoret: Irenaeus from the first florilegium, Gregory from the 
second. In the same note, Hooker quotes Theodoret, paraphrasing the 
argument of the second Dialogue (Bayne, p. 241n), although there is 
little reason to believe that Hooker derived his basic argument from 

In chapter 54.2 we have an important statement concerning the 
eternal generation of Christ from the Father. The section is composed 
of but four sentences, but seventeen citations are made, both biblical 
and patristic. It is one of the few places where Hooker piles up au- 
thoritative support, indicating thereby the importance of the subject 
and the necessity of fortifying his conclusions in the face of present 
controversy (for instance, the Lutheran Ubiquitarians versus the Sac- 
ramentarians; see The Book of Concord, Formula of Concord, Articles 7 
and 8). Here he was steering a careful path between subordinationism, 

veioc literally as meaning "litany, procession, rogation," whereas in the Nouellae and 
in Basil's Epist. 63 it simply means services or solemn supplications; see novellae 67 
and 122.32, and 2:\63.j.n. 

There is need for further investigation here. To the extent that Theodoret 
stressed the completeness and the distinctness of the two natures of Christ as united in 
one person, it would seem that Hooker was following him (see chap. 52.4). But it 
need not be Theodoret alone that he was following. Furthermore, it would seem that 
while Theodoret rejected the doctrine of communicatio idiomatum ("communion of the 
properties"), Hooker accepted it (see chap. 53.4; 2:219.8-14). 



which denigrated Christ's divinity, and Sabellianism, which so empha- 
sized Christ's divinity that he seemed to be but a temporary manifes- 
tation of the Godhead, with the consequent denigration of his humanity. 
Thus, Hooker argued, Christ is eternally generated, not as a gift "be- 
stowed by waie of beneyolence and favor" (2:221.10), and not by 
Grace, but "naturallie and eternallie" — and yet "Christ is God by 
beinge of God, light by issuinge out of light" (2:221.6-7). He is thus 
subordinate and human, but he is divine, "God by beinge of God." 
Hilary of Poitiers is cited five times in relation to the carefully bal- 
anced, two-fold assertion (2:221.1-10; see nn to o, s, w, and v). There 
are two citations from Augustine, but both of these seem to come 
from summaries elsewhere rather than from the places cited in De 
Trinitate (2:221. q,v). Tertullian's Contra Praxean is cited on the sub- 
ordinationist side of the argument (2:221. o). 

Hooker may have relied heavily on Hilary's De Trinitate in this and 
the surrounding chapters. Although he cites Hilary but seven times in 
Book V, five of these citations are clustered here. Or the heavy 
concentration of citations for so short a section, along with the diffi- 
culty concerning the citations from Augustine, may suggest that 
Hooker was here using a commonplace book, turning to "Christ, 
eternal generation of — ," marking it with a symbol in his rough draft, 
and thus directing his scribe, Benjamin Pullen, or someone else to set 
down the citations in this place. The commonplace book might have 
been Hooker's, or it might have belonged to someone else, such as 
Jewel or Whitgift. Or Hooker may simply have been particularly well 
read in the Fathers on this subject and in writing a concise statement 
recalled pertinent places in Hilary, Augustine, Tertullian, and else- 
where, on occasion summarizing the places quoted rather than quoting 
them exactly. We cannot finally tell. 

An especially important example of Hooker's use of the Fathers is 
found in chapter 67.11. Hooker has been in the process of establishing 
his Eucharistic doctrine, chiefly relying on Scripture and on the theo- 
logical debates on the presence of Christ in the sacrament as they 

Concerning Jewel's commonplace books, see Booty, Jewel as Apologist of the 
Church of England, pp. 112-117; for an example of such a book, Trinity College, Dublin, 
MS. C.1.25; see also Haugaard, "Renaissance Patristic Scholarship," pp. 54-56. 


Book V 

developed in the sixteenth century. He suddenly inserts "Touchinge 
the sentence of antiquitie in this cause" and gives a relatively brief 
summary statement utilizing numerous patristic references, from 
Irenaeus to Pseudo-Eusebius Emisenus. In the course of these citations 
we encounter Theodoret's Dialogi tres and Cyril of Alexandria's com- 
mentary on the Gospel of John, both important sources in Hooker's 
discussion of Christology. We also find several references to Cyprian's 
De coena Domini — in fact by Arnold, abbot of Bonneval (fl. 1144?), a 
friend of Bernard of Clairvaux, and not by Cyprian. Hooker used the 
work, a part of Arnold's larger De cardinalibus Christi operibus, in its 
1593 edition with annotations by Simon Goulart (1542—1628), the 
Calvinist-humanist theologian. 

An analysis of section 11 shows that Hooker accepted Arnold's 
theology and relied upon Goulart's annotations, deriving at least some 
of his patristic references from this source and not from the originals. 
Thus citations from Hilary and Leo the Great are taken from Gou- 
lart. Hooker generally agrees with Goulart's sacramental doctrine, 
and both find Arnold's teaching (they think it Cyprian's) most agree- 
able. Indeed, Hooker embraces the Bernardian spiritual mysticism 
expressed by Arnold and closes chapter 67 with the impassioned 
exclamation of the devout communicant taken directly (but without 
acknowledgment) from Arnold's De coena Domini. 

While Hooker relied first upon Thomas Cranmer's teaching in his 
controversy with Gardiner (see pp. 220-223, below), he relied on 
Arnold and Simon Goulart for much of his expression of that teaching 
and drew upon them in this crucial chapter for his patristic citations. 
Before the Goulart edition, Hooker had used Erasmus's edition, for his 
references to Cyprian's epistles conform to those found there. Hook- 
er's theology of transformation-in-us may thus have come from 
Arnold as annotated by Goulart, from Lutherans such as John Brentz 
and Martin Chemnitz, from Calvin's Contra Heshusius, or from 
Cranmer and the Book of Common Prayer (as I suggest below), but 

63 See Cyprian, Opera (1593), pp. 508, 512, and nn to 2:339. b and c. 

64 See 2:343.6-12 and n, and compare Cyprian, Opera (1593), p. 502; see also 
Bayne, pp. cxv, 386. 

See Bayne, p. cix and n. 7. Here is another subject needing further exploration. 




it is not the teaching of the early church Fathers, in whom there is no 
preoccupation with nominalism to provoke them into long and 
complex arguments concerning the mode of Christ's presence. Rather, 
it is the desire to put an end to controversy and argumentation and to 
enjoy the fruits of participation through the Eucharist that evokes the 
patristic atmosphere and ethos. 

Medieval Sources 

Hooker's mediated use of patristic sources points to Hooker's 
essentially medieval orientation and to the influence on him of his 
contemporaries, although this does not altogether obliterate the 
heavy influence of the early church on him any more than on his 
medieval sources. Neither of them can be easily treated, for in consid- 
ering them we depart from the Scriptures and the Fathers, in relation 
to which Hooker exercised considerable care in his references. Arnold 
of Bonneval is important among Hooker's medieval sources, but Aqui- 
nas looms far larger. He is not often cited directly, but his influence, 
together with that of Aristotle behind him, is felt throughout Book V. 
For instance, in chapter 1, when dealing with the importance to the 
commonwealth of religion, in chapter 56.1, when treating the principles 
lying behind the concept of "participation," and in chapter 69.2, when 
discussing time and the cosmos, Aquinas's Summa theologiae is implied 
throughout. When Hooker refers to "the schoolemen," it is natural if 
not necessary to look to Aquinas. Hooker's discussion of the adora- 
tion of the Cross includes a citation of Aquinas (chap. 65.15) and a 
paraphrase of an important passage in the Summa theologiae (see 
2:314.£.n). Chapter 64, dealing with interrogatories put to infants in 
baptism, recalls Aquinas's discussion of the same subject. Hooker 
had Aquinas in mind far more often than is indicated by his own notes. 

66 E. C. Ratcliff, for example, views Hooker as perpetuating the medieval 
tradition concerning the rite of Confirmation, rather than recovering the teachings of 
the early church Fathers. See Liturgical Studies (London: S.P.C.K., 1976), p. 118. A 
similar case could be made for other rites treated in Book V. 

67 See chap. 71.2 (2:371.23), and Bayne, p. 420, n. 5. 

68 See S.T., 3a.68.9, and Bayne, p. 336, n. 16. 


Book V 

Another passage citing Aquinas deserves attention. Chapter 58.2 is 
an important discussion of the substance of a sacrament. Aquinas is 
cited twice (2:249. x), along with Isidore of Seville and Gabriel Biel, as 
showing that a sacrament substantially conveys grace, with the ele- 
ments signifying that grace. There is some confusion in the citation, 
Hooker seemingly quoting Gregory the Great, but actually quoting 
Isidore a second time, and seeming to quote William of Ockham from 
his Sentences, but quoting him as found in Biel. Once more we may 
question the actual or proximate source of Hooker's references. The 
quotation from "Th. 2ae. 1. q.101.4 et q.102.5" is actually from the 
index to the Summa theologiae. Thus Hooker looked there to find 
the definition for sacramentum, proceeding no further, and recorded the 
references alongside the word in the index without quoting the text at 
all. There is no dishonesty indicated by this, only haste and perhaps a 
rather off-handed regard for the citation. There is also the possibility 
that Hooker was once more operating out of a common-place book 
made by someone else. He knew what constituted a sacrament and 
found a perfectly adequate description in the confessions of the Re- 
formed churches, cited in the same note. His own view is stated in the 
First Helvetic Confession (1536), chapter 20, and the Second Helvetic 
Confession (1566), chapter 19, and the patristic and medieval cita- 
tions are provided to indicate that the view he holds is one to which 
there had been universal adherence through the ages. Aquinas is not of 
consequence here beyond the support he can give to a position already 
occupied by Hooker. 

Other references to medieval sources are sparse in Book V, given its 
considerable length, and are not of great significance. Hugh of St. 
Victor's De sacramentis is cited in chapter 48.9 (2:196.^) by means of a 
paraphrase most likely derived from another source, and in chapters 
57.5 (2:247.i;), 60.2 (2:255./), and 60.4 (2:257.a) in relation to the 
definition of the sacraments. Bernard of Clairvaux's epistle to Hugh of 
St. Victor is cited concerning the necessity of the sacraments and of 
Baptism in particular (2:257. w). Nicholas of Lyra, the Franciscan 

69 See 2:249.x.5-6 and n. 

See Arthur C. Cochrane, Reformed Confessions of the Sixteenth Century (Philadel- 
phia: Westminster Press, 1966), pp. 107, 277-281. 



biblical scholar, is cited concerning the apocryphal books of the Bible 
(2:80. k) and the word "moraliter" in the Vulgate version of the 
blessing of Joseph (45.2; 2:183. n). Walafrid Strabo, the ninth-century 
abbot of Reichenau, is also cited concerning the Apocrypha (20.6; 
2:80.fe). Appeal is made to Rupert of Deutz's De diuinis officiis for 
support in the definition of a "catechumen" (18.3; 2:67. p) and in 
Hooker's treatment of preaching (21.4; 2:86. u). As might be expected, 
William of Durandus's Rationale divinorum officiorum is cited when 
Hooker is writing on the consecration of churches (12.1; 2:50. n) as is 
Rabanus Maurus's De clericorum institutione on church music (38.3; 
2:158.7—14). One might add the references to canon law, medieval 
Jewish sources, lexicons and the like, but the impression would be the 
same: with the exception of Aquinas, Hooker's sources do not reveal 
any great influence from writers of the middle ages. 

Contemporary Sources 

Hooker's references to his contemporaries in England and on the 
continent are even more difficult to treat. Citations of continental 
Reformers are sparse in Book V, and at places where it would seem 
that they might have been quoted profitably, they do not appear. This 
is not because Hooker regarded them as unimportant. Rather, he did 
not feel the need to refer to them as authorities relevant to the defense 
of English practice. Scripture, the Fathers, and the councils of the early 
church were the authorities with which he was most concerned, for 
they were the authorities recognized as well by the Puritans. It seems 
reasonable to suppose that, along with the various writings of conti- 
nental Protestant and Reformed divines, Hooker had by his side, as he 
wrote, such works as the Harmonia confessionum jidei, as well as 
liturgical books produced by Lutherans, Calvinists, and others. 

Even less explicit but more important was an indigenous English 
tradition, beginning with Cranmer and the Book of Common Prayer 
and extending through Jewel to Cooper and Whitgift and Bridges. 
Bayne emphasized Hooker's agreement with Cranmer and Jewel on 

71 See nn to 2:81. m, 249.x, 249.y, and 255.0. 


Book V 

Eucharistic doctrine and discounted the influence of Saravia. Cer- 
tainly a thorough and careful reading of Cranmer's An Answer . . . unto 
a Crafty Cavillation (1551; STC 5991), his important defense of the first 
Prayer Book against Stephen Gardiner, supports Bayne. 

Hooker emphasizes the general agreement on the purpose of the 
Eucharist even amongst those who disagree concerning the mode of 
Christ's presence. Cranmer said to Gardiner: "if there be any differ- 
ence between us two, it is but a little," and he argued that the basic 
doctrine, which is not dependent upon complex theological or philo- 
sophical arguments, is sufficient. Hooker argued that the real pres- 
ence "is not ... to be sought for in the sacrament, but in the worthie 
receiver of the sacrament." Cranmer asserted that in the sacrament 
Christ "is effectually present and effectually worketh not in the bread 
and wine, but in the godly receivers of them, to whom he giveth his 
own flesh." Hooker explained that the bread and wine "are his 
boodie and blood for that they are so to us who receivinge them 
receive that by them which they are termed." Cranmer wrote that 
the bread and wine 

represent the very body and blood of Christ, and the holy food 
and nourishment which we have by him. And so they be called 
by the names of the body and blood of Christ, as the sign, token, 

Pp. cvii-cxx and n. 39. 

I read Cranmer's work against Gardiner rather differendy from scholars who 
concentrate on the medieval disputes concerning presence and sacrifice in the Mass; 
see, for example, Cyril C. Richardson, "Cranmer and the Analysis of Eucharistic 
Doctrine," Journal of Theological Studies, n.s., 16.2 (Oct. 1965): 421-437. From the 
perspective of Hooker's Book V, certain emphases emerge in Cranmer as rather more 
important than has heretofore been acknowledged. The entirety of chaps. 8—16 of 
Cranmer's first book in his Writings and Disputations . . . Relative to the Sacrament of the 
Lord's Supper, PS (Cambridge, 1844), pp. 38—44, should be compared with Hooker's 
chap. 67. 

74 See chap. 67.2 (2:331.20-27); also 67.3-4 and 67.6 (2:335.20-30). 

Cranmer, Writings and Disputations, p. 91; see also pp. 16-17, 53, 127, and 283. 
76 Chap. 67.6 (2:334.31-32); and see 67.7 (2:336.7-9) and 67.11 (2:339.7-8). 

Cranmer, Writings and Disputations, pp. 34—35; and see pp. 11, 47, 53, 54, 55, 
57, 70-71, 72, 139, 173, 203, 250, 271, 341. 

78 Chap. 67.5 (2:334.15-17); and see 50.3 (2:208) and 67.11 (2:338.16-339.3). 


and figure is called by the name of the very thing which it 


sheweth and signifieth. 

Hooker is careful to say that the sacraments "reallie exhibit, but for 
ought wee can gather out of that which is written of them they are 
not reallie nor do reallie conteine in them selves that grace which with 


them or by them it pleaseth God to bestowe." In a famous state- 
ment, Cranmer says: 

the sacraments of Christ's flesh and blood be called his flesh and 
blood, and yet in deed they be not his flesh and blood, but the 
sacraments thereof, signifying unto godly receivers, that as they 
corporally feed of the bread and wine (which comfort their hearts 
and continue this corruptible life for a season) so spiritually they 
feed of Christ's very flesh, and drink his very blood. And we be 
in such sort united unto him, that his flesh is made our flesh, his 
holy Spirit uniting him and us so together, that we be flesh of his 
flesh, and bone of his bones, and make all one mystical body, 


whereof he is the head and we the members. 

Hooker's doctrine of participation, central to his understanding of 
the Eucharist, is central to Cranmer's teaching as well, which is 
based, as is Hooker's, on the exegesis of 1 Cor. 10:16 and on John 6 
as interpreted by Cyril of Alexandria. Indeed, Hooker may very 
well have discovered the value of Theodoret's Dialogi tres and Cyril's 

79 Cranmer, Writings and Disputations, p. 178; and see pp. 15, 60, 64, 123, 136, 
304. Note the doctrine of "use" on pp. 177 and 180. 

80 V.67.6 (2:335.7-10); and see 50.3 (2:208), 57.3 (2:245.31-246.2), 58.2 
(2:248.31-250.3), and 67.11 (2:338.17-339.8). 

Cranmer, Writings and Disputations, p. 150; and see pp. 148, 219, and 257. 

82 See chaps. 67.5 (2:334.17-21), 67.7 (2:335.33-336.2), 67.9 (2:337.5-7), 67.12 

83 On 1 Cor. 10, see Cranmer, Writings and Disputations, p. 242; on John 6, see 
pp. 307-308; and on "communion," where Cranmer relies heavily on Hilary of 
Poitiers (De Trinitate, chap. 8) and then on Cyril of Alexandria's commentary on John, 
see pp. 160-172. 


Book V 

commentary on the Gospel of John from reading Cranmer, 84 result- 
ing in a substantial but undocumented debt. 

iv. Hooker and Liturgical Tradition 

Sixteenth- Century England 

In Book V Hooker is defending the Book of Common Prayer, not 
as it was used in the late sixteenth century, but rather as Cranmer had 
intended it to be used. On an ordinary Sunday morning, worship in 
the Church of England normally consisted of Morning Prayer, the 
Litany, and Ante-Communion (that is, the first part of the Holy 
Communion, anciently designated the Pro-Anaphora), stopping short 
of the Sursum Corda, the Eucharistic Prayer, and the Communion of 
priest and people. If there were cause, Baptism would occur after 
the last lesson at Morning Prayer (B.C. P., 1559, p. 270). However, 
the Prayer Book assumed that the entire service of Holy Communion 
would be used every Sunday, and provided propers (Collects, Epistles, 
and Gospels) for every Sunday, as well as for other holy days (B.C. P., 
1559, pp. 77—246). Why then the deviation? Partly because many had 
long been reluctant to receive the bread and wine, believing them to 
be transmuted into the body and blood of Christ, fearing that in re- 
ceiving them unworthily they would be forever damned. This attitude 
is illuminated by the many exhortations, homilies, and sermons of the 

For Cranmer's lengthy citation of Theodoret, including passages cited by 
Hooker, see Writings and Disputations, pp. 127-132; see also pp. 299-301. For Cyril, 
see previous note. See also De coena Domini, attributed by Cranmer and Hooker to 
Cyprian, cited on pp. 308-312; the passages cited by Hooker are on p. 311, nn. 1, 2 
(compare 67.11; 2:339. a,b,c). A more detailed comparison of passages cited by both 
men is warranted. 

The same sort of study could be made with reference to Hooker and Jewel; see 
Bayne, pp. cxii-cxiii and n. 17. 

See William Harrison, The Description of England, ed. Georges Edelen, Folger 
Documents of Tudor and Stuart Civilization, 14 (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 
1968), pp. 33-34, and Booty, ed., The Godly Kingdom of Tudor England (Wilton, 
Conn.: Morehouse-Barlow, 1981), p. 179. 



time urging people to come to Holy Communion to receive the 
sacrament. Thomas Cooper (1520?— 1594), bishop of Lincoln, who 
highly esteemed the Lord's Supper and urged careful preparation for 
participation in it, also warned against too stringent a self-examination, 
concluding, "We may not . . . for our weakness and imperfection 
despair or refuse the comfort of that heavenly table." That Cooper 
and others felt the need to speak strongly on this matter indicates the 
nature of the problem. 

Such reluctance was buttressed by the Calvinist-Puritan emphasis on 
the Word and by strong objections to what many viewed as papist 
superstitions associated with the sacrament. Here was another reason 
for displacing a full communion service with what Harrison reported 
some derisively called Ante-Communion, the "dry communion." 
In the end, with the disuse of the Holy Communion there had to be 
a requirement that the sacrament be celebrated and received by all 


people on three Sundays during the year, one of them Easter Day. 
The legal enforcement of this rule indicated to the faithful that they 
must communicate at least three times a year, but others were bound 
to interpret that requirement as at most three times. 
In his second sermon on Jude, Hooker says: 

Blessed and praised for ever and ever be his name, who per- 
ceiving of how senselesse and heavy mettall we are made, hath 
instituted in his Church a spirituall supper, and an holy commun- 
ion, to be celebrated often, that we might thereby bee occasioned 
often to examine [ourselves] ....(§ 10; 5:42.15—19; my emphasis) 

He recognized that the end or purpose of the sacrament was in the 
very thing which many resisted, that is, their transformation through 
repentance and forgiveness, for "God doth not dwell in Temples 
which are uncleane" (5:42.20). But he also understood that the sacra- 

Cited in Booty, "Preparation for the Lord's Supper in Elizabethan England," 
Anglican Theological Review, 49.2 (April 1967): 131-148. 

Harrison, Description of England, p. 34. 
89 B.C. P., 1559, p. 268. See Frere, ed., Visitation Articles and Injunctions, 3:275, 
287, 307, 337. In Bentham's Injunctions for Coventry and Lichfield (1565), it was 
"four times in the year" (3:167). 


Book V 

ment, encompassing in the liturgy the precedent ministry of the Word, 
could bring people to repentance and forgiveness, cleansing and em- 
powering them. He spoke eloquently of receiving the bread and wine: 

Is not Manna like to gall, and our bread like to Manna? Is there 
not a tast, a tast of Christ Jesus in the hart of him that eateth? 
Doth not hee which drinketh, behold plainely in this cup, that 
his soul is bathed in the blood of the lambe? (5:43.14—17) 

The Holy Communion was meant to be celebrated not occasionally, 
but often. In this view, the legal three times a year would not be 
considered "often." The ideal was to be found in the weekly cele- 
bration as expected by the Book of Common Prayer. And the funda- 
mental reason for "often" was Hooker's conviction that as Baptism is 
the sacrament of justification, so Holy Communion is the sacrament of 
sanctification, the means for our "increase in holines and vertue" 
(67.1; 2:331.10), the means of "reall participation of Christe and of life 
in his bodie and bloode" (§ 2; 2:331.23-24). The "often" (as opposed 
to three times a year) was thus of utmost importance, theologically and 

Taken together, Word and Sacrament composed the "standinge 
order" or liturgy of the church, "framed with common advise" (25.4; 
2:116.11—12). Here was another important principle emphasized by 
Hooker. "Framed" by people, the liturgy might vary from place to 
place, but its God-given essentials were the same everywhere: 

No doubt from God it hath proceeded and by us it must be 
acknowledged a worke of his singular care and providence, that 
the Church hath evermore held a prescript forme of common 
prayer, although not in all thinges everie where the same, yeat 
for the most part reteininge still the same analogic So that if the 
liturgies of all ancient Churches throughout the world be com- 
pared amongst them selves, it may be easilie perceaved they had 
all one originall mould, and that the publique prayers of the 
people of God in Churches throughlie setled did never use to be 
voluntarie dictates proceedinge from any mans extemporall witt. 

Hooker had in mind here the Puritan prayer book, A Booke of the 



Forme of Common Prayer, and the prejudice of many against the use 
of set forms of prayers. He also had in mind the long history of the 
liturgy, insofar as it was then known and understood. While liturgies 
varied and liturgists in the sixteenth century were fully aware of 
differing liturgies in East and West, as well as of differing "uses" of the 
Roman rite in England and elsewhere, there was the strong conviction 
that there existed what in later times would be called a common shape 
of the liturgy, involving Word and Sacrament, persisting through the 
ages. Along with Cranmer, Hooker was dedicated to the preservation 
of continuity with that liturgical tradition which he regarded as God- 
given, framed with common counsel by godly men and authoritatively 
prescribed for public use, not only because it was the law that he 
defended, but because the liturgical tradition down through the ages 
had been proven efficacious for the accomplishment of God's purposes 
in the world. The worship of God, said Hooker, is a "holie and 
religious dutie" (24.1; 2:111.24). But there is more to it than that: 

A great parte of the cause, wherefore religious mindes are so 
inflamed with the love of publique devotion, is that vertue, force 
and efficacie, which by experience they finde that the verie 
forme and reverende solemnitie of common prayer dulie ordered 
hath, to help that imbecillitie and weakenes in us, by meanes 
whereof we are otherwise of our selves the lesse apt to performe 
unto God so heavenlie a service, with such affection of harte, and 
disposition in the powers of our soules as is requisite. (25.1; 

Hooker thus defends the Book of Common Prayer as it is given and 
framed for the Church in England, not as it was commonly used. He 
emphasizes both Word and Sacrament, but in this book especially the 
sacraments of Baptism and the Eucharist. He focuses on the Eucharist 
because it is the center of the church's weekly worship of God. The 
same was true of early Christian worship, as we find it described in 

90 London: R. Waldegrave, [1585?]; STC 16567. 

91 See Horton Davies, Worship and Theology in England, from Cranmer to Hooker, p. 
220, and Worship of the English Puritans (Westminster, 1948). 


Book V 

Justin Martyr's First Apology. There were readings from the Old and 
New Testaments and a homily given by the person presiding, the 
"president," as preparation for the Eucharist proper. Subsequently, in 
imitation of the Sabbath morning service in the synagogue, there was 
prayer as well. The Eucharist, at first a part of a meal, early developed 
as a separate liturgy, with the offering of bread and wine, a prayer of 
thanksgiving over bread and wine, the breaking of the bread for 
distribution, and the communion or distribution of bread and wine. 
The Book of Common Prayer as Hooker knew it preserved this 
ancient tradition of Word and Sacrament, but with elaboration, such 
as the conjoining on Sunday morning of Morning Prayer, Litany, and 
the Eucharist (both the ministry of the Word and the Eucharist perse), 
resulting in a greater emphasis, at least in terms of time spent, on the 
ministry of Word than was the case in the liturgical tradition rooted in 
the early church. Hooker did not dispute this order. Indeed, Book V 
follows it, as we have seen. What he wrote and the way in which he 
allotted space emphasizes the unit, Word-and-Sacrament, as together 
essential, not because of their centrality in liturgical tradition but 
because of their theological meaning and practical efficacy. 

During the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries the Evangelicals in 
England and America followed the continental Reformers and English 
Puritans in emphasizing the Word as preached, although a promi- 
nent Evangelical such as Charles Simeon could express a profound 
appreciation for the Prayer Book as a whole and for the sacraments in 


particular. In the nineteenth century the Tractarians and their 
successors, the Anglo-Catholics and Ritualists, emphasized the sacra- 
mental life and Eucharistic piety, although some of their adherents, 

Cited in chap. 20.1 (2:73. e) as the Second Apology, see n. 

See Josef A. Jungmann, S. J., The Early Liturgy, to the Time of Gregory the Great, 
Liturgical Studies, 6 (South Bend: University of Notre Dame Press, 1956), pp. 33, 


See Horton Davies, Worship and Theology in England, From Watts and Wesley to 
Maurice, 1690-1850 (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1961), p. 227. See also 
Walter Russell Bowie, "Evangelicals and Preaching," Anglican Evangelicalism, ed. A. C. 
Zabriskie (Philadelphia, 1943); pp. 203-213. 

95 See Davies, Worship and Theology . . . 1690-1850, pp. 217-218, and Charles 
Simeon, The Excellency of the Liturgy (New York, 1813). 

96 See Davies, Worship and Theology . . . 1690-1850, p. 266. See also, E. B. Pusey, 



such as J. H. Newman and Richard Church, were also remarkable 


preachers. Furthermore, a Tractarian such as John Keble was pro- 


foundly impressed by Hooker's strong sacramental doctrine, which 
Robert Isaac Wilberforce hailed for its emphasis on "a true and a real 
participation of Christ, who thereby imparteth Himself, even His 
whole entire Person, as a mystical head unto every soul that receiveth 
Him."" In part it was through the Tractarian and Anglo-Catholic 
recovery of the sacramental teachings of Hooker and of the Caroline 
divines that the English church began in the nineteenth century to 
re-emphasize Sacrament as well as Word and so approach the holistic 
understanding of the Book of Common Prayer that Hooker had 
promoted in Book V. 

The Modem Liturgical Movement 

Hooker's emphasis on Word and Sacrament is also found in the 
modern liturgical movement, which, as Horton Davies describes it, 
insists upon the centrality of the "Eucharistic rite (as both Revelation 
and response in which the Sacrament of the Word is linked with the 
Sacrament of the Holy Communion)." Its success is to be gauged 
in part by the number of congregations that have changed from 
Sunday preaching services to Sunday Eucharists, incorporating the 
ministry of the Word but emphasizing the Sacrament. Another princi- 
ple of the modern liturgical movement has concerned the realization 
of Eucharistic worship as truly corporate. Davies cites Gabriel Hebert 
as teaching that now, as a result of the liturgical revival, Christianity 
has come to be viewed 

The Doctrine of the Real Presence (London, 1855), and John Keble, On Eucharistical 
Adoration (Oxford, 1867). 

97 See Newman's Fifteen Sermons Preached before the University of Oxford (London, 
1843) and Church's Pascal and Other Sermons (London, 1895). 
Keble, l:xcv-xcvi. 

99 The Doctrine of the Incarnation (Philadelphia, 1849), p. 342, citing V.67.7 

100 Worship and Theology in England: The Ecumenical Century (Princeton: The 
University Press, 1965), pp. 13-14. 


Book V 

"as a way of life for the worshipping community," ... a corpo- 
rate renewal of faith (through the theology proclaimed in Sermon 
and Sacrament), of commitment and consecration (through the 

Offertory), and an incentive to serve and transform the fragment- 

j • ., 101 
ed society. 

The understanding of liturgy as truly corporate, intended not only for 
the transformation of individuals but of society as well, was held by 
Cranmer and by Hooker. Both men emphasized the Eucharistic liturgy 
with its corporate nature and impact because both looked back to the 
roots of the liturgical tradition in the early church, deriving their 
inspiration from its source, working on details in form and matter in 
relation to the roots and to the exigencies of the times in which they 
lived and worked. Peter Lake has even argued that by changing the 
focus of the Elizabethan church from predestination to "the sacrament 

and prayer-centered piety set out in the Polity" Hooker "invented" 

a t 102 


It was through his defense of the Book of Common Prayer, then, 
that Hooker contributed toward the formation of a distinctive Angli- 
can religious perspective. John Barton and John Halliburton have 
pointed out the ways in which the "sacred story" in Scripture, which 
is the basis of Christian doctrine, is viewed in Anglican tradition 
primarily in the context of the liturgy. It is regarded as integral to 
worship and is read and heard doxologically, only secondarily as matter 
for study and edification. They point to two places in Hooker's Book 
V. First, contrasting the Prayer Book's use of Scripture with the 
Puritans' use, Hooker wrote: 

For with us the readinge of scripture in the Church is a parte of 
our Church litourgie, a speciall portion of the service which we 
doe to God, and not an exercise to spend the time, when one 

Davis, The Ecumenical Century, p. 40. 

Anglicans and Puritans? (1986), pp. 196, 227. It is not necessary to go as far as 
Lake does to realize how influential Hooker was; see "Hooker and Anglicanism," 
S.R.H. (1972), pp. 207-239; also, the editions of Book V by Dobson (1825), 
Hanbury (1830), Keble (1836), Paget (1888), and Bayne (1902), listed in S.R.H., pp. 



doth waite for an others comminge, till thassemblie of them that 
shall afterwardes worship him be complete. (19.5; 2:71.14—19; 
my emphasis) 

Second, referring to the antiphonal reading of psalms, to which the 
Puritans objected, Hooker wrote: "these interlocutorie formes of 
speech what are they els but most efFectuall partlie testifications and 
partlie inflammations of all pietie?" (39.1; 2:155.17—19). Barton and 
Halliburton point specifically to Hooker's reference to the reading of 
Scripture in the liturgy as something done "to God." Here "the 
congregation is seen as reading with the reader, and using the scrip- 
tural text as a vehicle for presenting its praises to God." They con- 

So, in the system enshrined in the Prayer Book, . . . the Church 
reads over the Scriptures in order to tell God its 'story', to go 
over its formative years with him anew, to proclaim in his pres- 
ence the salvation it has experienced. The accidents of the Eliza- 
bethan settlement throw up an approach to the Bible which sees it 
contextualized in liturgy, functioning as a focus for the Church's 
corporate belief not just by being an external norm of faith but 
by being itself a form of prayer, a text by which the worshipping 
community praises God. 

We are dealing here, however, with more than the Bible in a liturgical 
context. We are also dealing with doctrine, recognizing that Hooker's 
most serious, extended treatment of the Incarnation is in chapters 51— 
55, preparatory to a detailed treatment of the sacraments. This central 
doctrine concerning Christ is understood in a liturgical context, for 
which chapter 56 is a most important witness. Stephen Sykes writes of 
the doctrine of the Incarnation as central in the life of the church: 
"the ethos of the Anglican communion is substantially determined by 
what is both explicitly professed and implicitly reinforced in its liturgical 

"Story and Liturgy," Believing in the Church: The Corporate Nature of Faith, A 
Report of the Doctrine Commission of the Church of England (Wilton, Conn.: 
Morehouse-Barlow, 1981), pp. 98, 99. 


Book V 

practice. Liturgy is the matrix in which Anglicans are taught the 
Christian faith." 

When Hooker says that "beliefe consisteth not so much in knowl- 
edg as in acknowledgment of all thinges that heavenlie wisdome 
revealeth" (63.1; 2:290.28—30), he is not disparaging the pursuit of 
learning. Rather, he is affirming that saving truth requires "acknowl- 
edgment" prior to "knowledg." It is in the context of liturgy that 
"heavenlie wisdome" is revealed, and it is in the same context that the 
faithful are enabled to acknowledge the saving truth. Hooker then 
must be recognized as a major contributor to a tradition in which a 
people, in engagement with one another in common worship, 
through liturgy both rooted in tradition and responsive to the present, 
find what they need inwardly and outwardly, spiritually and social- 

, 105 

"The Incarnation as the Foundation of the Church," Incarnation and Myth: The 
Debate Continued, ed. Michael Goulder (Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans Publish- 
ing Co., 1979), p. 119. 

Note: the description of the book by units of more than one chapter is given 
in the Commentary at the appropriate places. 


De Adbonibra. FoLioy* 

beat coertionem,qu6d fi iuditium fuum executioni dcmandare no poP 
Jet fie effentiuditia deluforia. Non enim habetordinarius iurifdidrione 
& executionem in omni caufa,cum iura fint feperata &limitata if]" 5^ Sur 
enim caufo fpirituales > in quibus iudexfecularis non habet cognitione 
neeexecimonem,cumnonhabeatcoertionem. In hij$ enim caufis per-- 
tinet cognitio ad iudicts ecclefiafticos , qui regunt &. defenduntfacer- 
dotium. S unt autem caufa: feculares quarum cognitio. pertinet ad reges 
& piincipes,qui dcfenduntregnum,ec dequibus iudices ecclefiaftici fe> 
intromittere non debent , cam eoram iura fiue iurifdi&iones limitata? 
funt& fepcrata?>nifi ita fit quod gladius iuuare debeat gladium, eft enim 
magna differentia inter facerdotium & regrium* 

i GDcreriwirie ittrifdiBionis qU'<t pertttffltadregnum. i. Dcjkcramento quod rex fa- 
an debet in coronation?. $, JPd quod rex creatusjit in ordinma iurifdi&ione. 
Caf>.9. « ' '' - ' 

. ••.'.. .-( n 1 ? ■"..-"..■'•■• 

Cum autem de regimine /acerdotij nihil pertineat ad tra&atum iftfi, 
ideo videndum erit de i^s qua? peftinentad regnum , quis primo & 
principalitcr poflit e^t debeat iudicare . Et lciendum quod ipfe Rex 
et non alius, fi folus ad hoc fuffieere pdflit., cum ad hoc per virtute iacra- 
rtienti tenCatur aftrictus. iff i. Debet enim in coronatione fua 7 in nomi- 
ne Ihefu Chrifti prxftito faeramento^hcec tria jpmittere populo fibi fub- 
dito . Inprimis fe elTe pra;cepfc^rum r & pro viribus opem impenfurum, 
Vtecclefi;edci& omni populo Chriftiano vera pax, omni fuo tempore 
obferuetur.Secund6,vtrapacitatci& omnes iniquitates , omnibus gra- 
dibus interdieat. Tertio, vjin omnibus iuditijs a?quitatcm pracipiat& 
mifericordiam , vtindulgeat eifuammifericordiamclemens &mifcri-. 
cors deus,& vt per iuftitiam fuam firma gaudeant pace vniuerfi. ^f 3. Ad 
hoc autem creatus eft et ele&us ,vt iuftitiam faeiatvniuerfis ,ctytin eo 
dominiis fedcar, et per ipfum fua iuditia difcernat , et quod iufte iudica- 
ueritfufhtfeat & defendat, quia fi non elTetqui iuftitiam faccret, pax de 
facili poflet exterminari,& fuperuacuum eftet leges conderc,& iuftitiam 
faeere,nifi effct qui leges tueretur.Separare autem debet rex (cum fit dei 
vicarins in terra) ius ab iniuria,a?quum ab iniquo,vt omnes fibi fubiecti, 
honefte viuant,et quod nullus alium lsd&t, & quod vnicuique,quod fu- 
um f«erit,feda contributionereddatur.Potcutia vcr6 omnes fibi fubdi- 
tos debet precellerc. Parcm autem habere non deber,nec multo fortius 
fupcriorem,maxime in iuftitia exhibenda, vt dicatur vere de eo,magnus 

3. "cum eorum iura siuc iurisdictioncs liinitatac sunt & seperatae, . . ." (lines 9-10). The 
De legibus et consuetudinibus Angliae attributed to Henry de Bracton was one of several 
medieval legal sources drawn on in Hooker's Autograph Notes to reinvigorate the ideal 
of limited and separate secular and ecclesiastical jurisdictions in the then current context 
of overarching royal control. Folio 107 r of die 1569 edition (STC 1352; reduced). 

The Three Last Books and 
Hooker's Autograph Notes 

Arthur Stephen McGrade 

Establishing the legitimacy of episcopal and royal authority in the 
English church was Hooker's chief aim in the Lawes, yet the books in 
which he most directly pursued that aim have more often been ig- 
nored or regarded with suspicion than hailed as a crowning 
achievement. In comparison with the grand cosmology of law in Book 
I or the tour deforce of Prayer Book commentary in Book V, Hooker's 
introduction to the problems of public spiritual discipline in the 
opening chapters of Book VI, his vindication of the authority and 
honor of bishops in Book VII, and his defense of the English crown's 
power of ecclesiastical dominion in Book VIII have been relegated to 
a vague secondary level of significance, at best, or, at worst, cited as 
evidence against their author's integrity. Each of the three last books 
poses textual and interpretive problems of its own. These are discussed 
elsewhere — textual difficulties in the Textual Introduction to volume 
3 of this edition, issues of interpretation in the following introductions 
and commentaries for individual books. The purpose of this essay is to 
review what factors have obscured the significance of all three books 
and then to indicate how their reconsideration is aided by the recent 
discovery of a portion of Hooker's own notes for these books. 

The importance Hooker attached to the issues treated in the three 
last books is clear from the opening paragraph of Book VI. Here he 
identifies the topics of "Jurisdiction, Dignitie, Dominion Ecclesiasticall" as 
"the weightiest and last remaines" of his controversy with Cartwright, 
Travers, and the disciplinarian party. He admonishes his reader not to 
imagine that 

the bare and naked difference of a few ceremonies, could eyther 
have kindled soe much fire, or have caused it to flame soe long, 



butt that the partyes which herein laboured mightily for chaunge 
and (as they say:) for reformation, had somewhat more then this 
marke only, whereat to ayme. (VI. 1.1; 3:2.16-21) 

The ulterior aim, "many . . . have conjectured," was to seize effective 
spiritual power for pastors in their several congregations. Even the 
campaign for lay-elders was only a stratagem to enlist popular support 
for this new clericalism. It would be unjust to Hooker's opponents in 
the struggle to define a legitimate structure of authority for their 
common church to accept uncritically his imputation of self-aggrandiz- 
ing motives, just as it would be unjust to his own defense of the 
worship and ministry of the Prayer Book to regard it as concerned 
merely with "the bare and naked difference of a few ceremonies." Yet 
Hooker's emphasis on the gravity of the issues to be decided in the 
three last books and even his characterization of the controversy as a 
contest for power can serve as a useful counterweight to the traditional 
assessment of his work as, at heart and at its best, aloof from all parti- 

In retrospect, it is easy to see how the traditional association of 
Hooker primarily with the less obviously controversial parts of his 
work has been formed. It is a product of historic social change, the 
quality of Hooker's own rhetoric, and some serious misadventures in 
publication. The survey o£"Lawes, and their severall kindes in generall " 
in Book I is timeless, at least as a literary classic. The religion of the 
Prayer Book has endured, occasionally flourished, and Hooker remains 
its greatest expositor; hence Book V, too, remains of current as well as 
historical interest, at least to unalienated Anglicans. But as religion has 
become increasingly fragmented and private in the modern world, 
public concern with the power of bishops and the religious authority 
of secular rulers has dwindled. With regard to these increasingly 
marginal topics, furthermore, Hooker has seemed indistinct on the 
first — episcopacy — and retrograde on the second — the ecclesiastical 
power of princes. The impetus thus given to identifying Hooker with 
earlier parts of his work is reinforced by his own tone of calm assur- 
ance, which has contributed to the comfortable perception of him as 
a soul above the insults of contemporary polemic and disengaged from 
party politics. Finally, there is the still mysterious manuscript history 


Three Last Books and Autograph Notes 

and belated publication of Books VI— VIII to contend with. Hooker 
had drafted a detailed rebuttal of the case for presbyterian lay-elders by 
1593, but this is known to us only through comments on it by two 
of his associates. The six chapters on "the virtue and discipline of 
repentance" published as Book VI in 1648 have struck many readers 
as an irrelevant surrogate for the lost draft, either inserted by Hooker 
himself or taken from his other papers and moved into the Lawes by 
later possessors of his manuscripts. A half-century's delay in publishing 
Hooker's justifications of episcopal and royal authority in Books VII 
and VIII left these treatises ideologically homeless. By the time they 
appeared, during and just after the Civil War, they could have no 
formative influence on the establishment Hooker had meant to defend, 
yet they were too conservative to find favor with dissenters. Add to 
this the rumor that Hooker's manuscripts of all three books had been 
vandalized at his death, and it is not surprising that the remaining texts 
of this final third of the Lawes, Hooker's attempt to resolve what he 
considered the weightiest issues of his day, though included for the 
sake of scholarly completeness in Keble's editions in the nineteenth 
century, were dropped from the Everyman reprint of Keble in 1907. 
If the combination of changes in the relation of religion to society 
in the modern world, insensitivity to Hooker's polemical intent, and 
accidents of publication explain the common suspicion or neglect of 
the three last books, a new combination of circumstances, scholarship, 
and texts now calls for a new approach to them. First, the modern 
division of human affairs into a public secular realm and a multitude of 
private religious and moral realms no longer passes without question. 
The Christian churches are less content than previously to worship in 
isolation from one another and from public life. Discontent with a 
purely secular social order is still more intense in non-Christian quar- 
ters. Religion, whether comforting, liberal, prophetic, or fanatical, is 
once more a factor in world affairs. No one can sanely doubt the value 

See the Textual Introduction to Lawes, VI-VIII (3:xiii-xxvi). 

On the dating of this draft, see Introduction to The Preface, pp. 41—43, above. 

Books I— V and two tractates (Of Justification and Certaintie) were reprinted (from 
Keble's texts) in 1907 with an introduction by Ronald Bayne; Christopher Morris 
revised the Introduction in 1954. 



of toleration, a precious if accidental result of the early modern wars 
of religion, yet the stresses now felt from the separation of public 
policy from concern with any spiritual value more specific than 
personal freedom may give new relevance to an author who sought at 
its onset to avoid precisely such separation. 

Corresponding to this trend of events is a recent scholarly emphasis 
on Hooker's engagement in partisan conflict. His account of the 
Puritan movement in the Preface to the Lawes, while not unique 
among Elizabethan tracts in its attempt to discredit opponents before 
considering their arguments, is also not a disinterested essay in social 
history. Close reading of Books I— V shows that Hooker treats even the 
loftiest subjects in a quietly polemical fashion. Thus it is no longer 
possible to consider him an innocent without investment in the 
political decisions of his day. Instead we must ask how successful he 
was in reconciling his support for policies made by others with princi- 
pled commitments of his own. 

Biographical and textual research has shifted perception in the same 
direction, from the supposition that Hooker wrote in pastoral seclu- 
sion, troubled only by a wife whose Puritan friends would steal or 
corrupt the manuscripts of the three last books after his death, to the 
recognition that he worked for the most part in London, the center of 
all conflict, in collaboration with well connected men of affairs, and 
on a schedule calculated to provide literary support for repressive 
anti-Puritan legislation in the Parliament of 1593. 

The Introductions and Commentaries following this essay present 
Books VI-VIII from the perspectives sketched above. Of particular 
significance for this reinterpretation is the discovery in 1974 at Trinity 

See Cargill Thompson, "The Philosopher of the 'Politic Society,'" in S.R.H., 
pp. 3-76; both introductory essays in An Abridged Edition; Robert Eccleshall, Order and 
Reason in Politics: Theories of Absolute and Limited Monarchy in Early Modem England 
(Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1978), pp. 126-150, and "Richard Hooker and the 
Peculiarities of the English: The Reception of the Ecclesiastical Polity in the Seven- 
teenth and Eighteenth Centuries," History of Political Thought, 2.1. (Spring 1981): 63- 
117; and Faulkner, Richard Hooker and the Politics of a Christian England. And see above, 
Introduction to Book I, pp. 84—86. 

See Sisson and Introduction to The Preface, pp. 59-60, above. 


Three Last Books and Autograph Notes 

College, Dublin, of some fourteen folios of Hooker's working notes 
for Books VI and VIII. These Autograph Notes are printed for the 
first time in volume 3 of the present edition (3:463—523). Detailed 
commentary on them follows the commentary on Book VIII in this 
volume. The present essay continues with a discussion of the most 
important points on which these notes must affect our understanding 
of the books to which they are related. 

i. The Autograph Notes and Book VI of The Lawes 

The great problem with Book VI has been to determine the rela- 
tion, if any, between the extensive treatise against lay-elders that 
Hooker is known to have drafted by 1593 and the chapters on pen- 
ance which were first published as Book VI in 1648 and reprinted, 
often with marked hesitancy, in later editions. The Autograph Notes 
make a major contribution to the solution of this problem. 

The lost draft can be reconstructed in outline from comments on it 
made by Hooker's two associates, George Cranmer and Edwin 
Sandys. It fits perfectly Hooker's previously announced plan for the 
Lawes (Pref. 7.6). The discussion of penance — Book VI as we now 
have it — flows without abrupt change of course from an introductory 
chapter clearly within the boundaries of the original scheme, and its 
general relevance to Hooker's concerns in the Lawes argues for its 
continued publication as part of the work. Nevertheless, the exact 

An additional folio replying to the attack on earlier books of the Lawes, pub- 
lished in 1599 as A Christian Letter, is printed at 3:523-538, reprinted in 4:83-97, and 
commented upon in 4:234—239. 

Stanwood bracketed the Cranmer-Sandys notes as "between 1593 and 1596" 
(3:xxxi); Haugaard (pp. 41—42, above) convincingly argues for the 1593 date (at least 
for Cranmer's comments), which is adopted by Gibbs, pp. 259—261, below. On 
Keble's skepticism in regard to Book VI, see Works (1888), 1 :xxxiv— xxxix. 

See 3:105-140 and nn, below; and see Rudolph Almasy, "Richard Hooker's 
Book VI: A Reconstruction," Huntington Library Quarterly, 42 (1979): 117-139; and 
see Introduction to Book VI, pp. 253-255, below. Cranmer's and Sandys's comments 
are our sole evidence for the existence as well as the contents of this treatise. 

A. S. McGrade, "Repentance and Spiritual Power: Book VI of Richard Hooker's 
Of the Laws of Ecclesiastical Polity," Journal of Ecclesiastical History, 29 (1978): 163-176. 



contribution of these six substantial chapters to the larger argument has 
remained unclear. 

At first glance the newly discovered notes only exacerbate the 
problem, for those relating to Book VI were not made as a basis for 
writing either the draft read by Cranmer and Sandys or the chapters 
on penance. Rather, these notes of Hooker's would have served as the 
basis for yet another sizable essay: a discussion of the medieval church 
courts, which had survived the English Reformation relatively un- 
changed despite Puritan criticism, projects for reform, and encroach- 
ment by the common law. On closer reading, however, connec- 
tions become apparent between this new material and both of the 
previously known parts of Book VI. The result is that, while the 
number of parts is now greater, their unity is also greater. All the parts 
fit, both with one another and with the argument of the Lawes. 

The force of this evidence will be clearer after a brief outline of the 
new material. It consists almost entirely of transcriptions from medieval 
legal sources and is organized around four headings: 

1 What causes particularly are spirituall. 

2 The forme and maner of proceding in them. 

3 The punishments necessary in spirituall processe. 

4 The care which justice hath alwayes had to uphold ecclesiasti- 

call jurisdictions and courts. (3:472.14—18) 

In four instances we can observe Hooker using this material in draft 
paragraphs of his own, allowing us to gauge how much the notes 
might have contributed to a revised Book VI. Using the ratio of 

10 Ralph Houlbrooke, Church Courts and the People During the English Reformation, 
1520-1570 (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1979). No serious post-Reformation 
attempt had been made to expound the ecclesiastical laws for the benefit of English 
readers before the work of such men as Henry Swinburne, Richard Cosin, and 
Francis Clarke in the 1590s (Houlbrooke, pp. 19-20). Hooker's discussion would have 
been a welcome addition to these efforts. 

11 The length of draft paragraphs in relation to source transcriptions in the 
Autograph Notes varies from 52% to 244%. The average for the four paragraphs 
(3:486.13-487.16, 488.18-489.25, 489.26-35, and 490.2-6) is 154%. At this rate (not 
an unreasonable one, in view of Hooker's collection of several distinct series of 
sources for Book VIII at 494.14-523.26), the 3,282 words of source transcriptions in 


Three Last Books and Autograph Notes 

source notes to draft exposition in these instances as a basis for calcula- 
tion, we may reckon that the quotations gathered under the four 
headings listed above would have led to a discussion of approximately 
6,100 words, or somewhat more than seventeen pages in the present 
edition. Such calculations are obviously only approximate, but it is 
reasonable to think that these sources would have provided the basis 
for a quite substantial chapter. 

Could such an essay have been part of the lost draft on lay-elders? 
No. First, because a discussion of this magnitude on these topics could 
not be fitted into the lost draft. Although Cranmer's and Sandys's 
comments indicate that Hooker had given some attention to related 
matters, no portion of their comments could reasonably apply to a 
detailed treatment of the cases, procedures, punishments, and indepen- 
dence of the established church courts. More decisively, Sandys's 
comments on the lost draft are beyond doubt the occasion for Hooker's 
collection of sources on the four listed topics. 

Now a member of Commons, Sandys observes, commenting on the 
sentence on page 3 of Hooker's lost draft, "Why causes matrimoniall — is 
not obscure": 

nor verie plaine. And therfore I pray you set it down. And add 
withall the reason why causes of legitimation and bastardie are 
spirituall. Moreover if you can, why matters Testamentarie, 
which is the greatest point of all other. Wherein the nature and 
difference of causes meerely ecclesiasticall and mixt is to be 
opened. These points are at this day verie strongly impugned: 
and therfore the trueth in them most necessarie to be thoroughly 
unfolded. (3:130.30-132.3) 

the notes for Book VI would have yielded 5,054 words of finished text. An addition- 
al 1 ,065 words can be counted (at a rate of 1 00%) from passages in the notes in which 
Hooker argues a point, rather than transcribing or briefly reflecting on sources. In 
sum, the notes for Book VI (466.16—486.9), including the notes bearing on the topics 
of Books VI-VIII in general at 466.16—469.13, provide a basis for some 6,119 words 
of finished text — about seventeen pages in this edition, an average chapter length in 
the 1648 Book VI, equivalent to three chapters in the earlier books. 



A little later, commenting on Hooker's page 16, Sandys adds that, "as 
all things of this lyfe have their reference to the life to come: so all 
civill causes have something in them spirituall: whereupon riseth the 
difficultie of distinguishing the one kynd from the other." After 
proposing two rules of his own for distinguishing the two types of 
case, he concludes: "These things you must needes handle somewhere 
or other" (3:133.8—11, 30—31). Sandys could not have made these 
comments if he had had before him a detailed discussion of the four 
points we see in folio 77 of the Autograph Notes. 

Conversely, Sandys's observations and queries explain perfectly why 
these notes were compiled: namely, for a discussion "somewhere or 
other" in which the most "strongly impugned" points of ecclesiastical 
jurisdiction would be "thoroughly unfolded." The first of Hooker's 
four headings (on which he had apparently touched in the draft read 
by Sandys, but too briefly) is directly apposite to Sandys's comments. 
The fourth heading, on the concern of "justice" to uphold ecclesiasti- 
cal jurisdiction, speaks to contemporary attacks on the church courts, 
also mentioned by Sandys. By discussing the intervening two topics as 
well, Hooker would have "thoroughly unfolded" the whole system of 
church law obtaining in England when he wrote. Thus Sandys's 
comments on the draft refutation of lay-elders clearly led to this 
portion of Hooker's working notes, and perhaps beyond, to a chapter 
based on the notes. If Hooker wrote such a chapter, however, it has 
not come to light. It certainly is not any of the chapters on penance 
published in 1648. 

What, then, is the connection between the material we have exam- 
ined so far — the lost draft and Hooker's notes on church courts — and 
the tract on penance published as Book VI in 1648? To begin answer- 
ing this question we must look further at Cranmer's and Sandys's 

Sandys's call for a thorough explication of the different kinds of 
legal causes — spiritual, temporal, and mixed — is not the only instance 
in which he urged Hooker to expand Book VI to something more 
than a refutation of lay-elders. In his first comment on Hooker's draft, 
he asks whether, if Book VI be "generally intended" against the 
disciplinarians' whole platform of ecclesiastical jurisdiction, it is suffi- 
cient to deal "with no other part then only lay Presbiters." He goes 


Three Last Books and Autograph Notes 

on to ask, "What think you of deviding the Pastor and Doctour? Or 
where handle you that point? What of their consistorie? What of their 
Synodes?" (3:130.18—24). At least two of Cranmer's comments might 
also have led Hooker to fuller discussion: 3:111.4—15, commenting on 
"Every open scandalous action," and 3:112.17—20, commenting on "They 
would not be light." Such suggestions for enlarging a treatise already 
more than one-third the length of Book V have been cited (for 
example, at 3:xxxv of this edition) as evidence that the 1648 treatise 
on penance, long as it is, would not have been unduly ample as an 
introduction to a revision of Book VI responsive to Cranmer's and 
Sandys's comments. The discovery that Hooker made detailed notes in 
response to one comment alone strengthens this argument. 

Sandys's remarks on the kinds of cases appropriate for ecclesiastical 
courts and Hooker's response in the Dublin notes suggest that the 
treatise published in 1648 is suitable in content as well as scale to a 
finished, expanded Book VI. To see this, we must set aside the mod- 
ern assumption that repentance is a purely private matter, a subject for 
sermons and devotional tracts but not for a treatise on English ecclesi- 
astical law. Instead we should recall that the moral regeneration of 


society was a central aim of the English Reformation, that public 
discipline of morals was a persistent (if controversial) concern of the 
Elizabethan church from the Convocation of 1563 onwards, that 
lay-eldership was proposed precisely as part of a system of external 
discipline, that the 1648 treatise on repentance is in large part a history 
of public discipline in the patristic church, and, finally, that the 
express aim of the medieval church courts was to bring about repent- 
ance. Due attention to these points does not dictate a detailed table of 
contents for a final form of Book VI. A systematic discussion of the 
English church courts would have been an apt continuation of the 
historical and theological account of discipline published in 1648. 
Alternatively, a discussion of the church courts might have been fitted 
into the early draft on lay-elders (itself subject to other revisions) at the 

On repentance in Book V, see Introduction, pp. 200-202, above. 
William P. Haugaard, Elizabeth and the English Reformation (1968), pp. 67-73, 
169-175, 279. 

See McGrade, "Repentance and Spiritual Power," n. 9, above. 



point where Sandys called for a thorough unfolding of such matters. It 
is not clear how Hooker planned to proceed here. What is now clear, 
however, is that there is no difficulty in principle in forming a con- 
nected and comprehensive conception of Book VI as an integral part 
of the Lawes. Unfortunately, the Book VI so conceived does not exist. 
We do not have Hooker's early draft. We do not have a discussion of 
church courts based on the Autograph Notes. Thanks largely to the 
notes, however, which are linked in their genesis to the early draft and 
in content to both that draft and the 1648 chapters on repentance, we 
can see that Hooker was working towards a Book VI which was both 
more comprehensive and more positive than he had originally planned. 
He ultimately intended to offer nothing less than a theologically 
grounded, historically and legally informed exposition of established 
institutions of ecclesiastical jurisdiction as well as a refutation of the 
presbyterian discipline most pressingly demanded as an alternative. The 
loss of such a treatise from Hooker is a great misfortune. 

M. The Autograph Notes and Book VII 

The direct impact of the Autograph Notes on our understanding of 
Book VII of the Lawes is negligible. A short section on episcopal 

1S There can be no certainty about Hooker's plans for all of the drafts, notes, and 
readers' suggestions bearing on Book VI. A "maximal" final form of the book, incor- 
porating all that he is known to have written or was definitely advised to write, is 
shown at the right of the following diagram, with earlier stages to the left. Extant 
material is shown in boldface capitals. 

First form Intermediate matter Final Form of Book VI? 




of lay-elders leading to 

HOOKER'S AUTO. NOTES Chaps, on church courts 

ON CHURCH COURTS ^ ■ , r ■ c 

Revised refutation ot 


Refutation of other parts of 
the discipline 


Three Last Books and Autograph Notes 

elections at folio 76 r of the Dublin manuscript (3:491.29-492.30) 
seems flagged for Book VII (but Hooker used the material in VIII 
instead), and a number of the rhetorical phrases collected at folios 83— 
84 (3:463.1—466.14) bear on the conflict over episcopacy. More 
important changes in our understanding of Book VII are wrought by 
the Dublin notes indirectly, through their effects on surrounding 
books. The exposition of an ordinarily autonomous system of ecclesi- 
astical justice projected for Book VI would have confirmed the au- 
thority of the bishops who presided over the system, as well as adding 
weight to the system as a whole. Confirming episcopal authority was 
not Hooker's only aim in Book VII, however. He was also deeply 
concerned about the shortcomings of contemporary bishops. A parallel 
concern with the irresponsible exercise of royal power is evident, as 
we shall see, from the Autograph Notes for Book VIII, and this in 
turn underlines Hooker's distinctive use of Jerome in Book VII to 
suggest that the very office of bishop depends for its continuing 
legitimacy on its acceptance by the church (VI 1. 5. 8). More generally, 
the wide range of sources transcribed in Hooker's working notes draws 
attention to the broad context in which he considered episcopal 
authority and honor, issues on which previous polemic had been 
especially narrow and unedifying. Book VII has always been difficult 
to place among standard ecclesiological positions. Encouraged now to 
take a fresh look at all of the three last books, we may find that in this 
one Hooker has intentionally gone beyond standard positions to 
fashion an episcopal ideal both tenable on the basis of Scripture and 
history and adequate to the circumstances in which he wrote. 

Hi. The Autograph Notes and Book VIII 

The Dublin notes have important implications, both direct and 
indirect, for our understanding of Hooker's defense of the royal 
supremacy in Book VIII. They show us how the book was written, 
help explain the unfinished state in which it has come down to us, and 
strengthen our impression of Hooker as a distinctively republican or 
constitutionalist interpreter of supreme power. 

There are no fewer than four distinct outlines of Book VIII pre- 
served in these notes: a short paragraph on folio 69 (3:494.28—33), and 



three somewhat varied lists of chapter headings, two of them followed 
by collections of correspondingly organized sources. We can thus see 
the book take shape before our eyes. 

In conjunction with the notes for Book VI, this material suggests an 
explanation for the particular sort of unfinished quality possessed by 
Book VIII in all surviving manuscripts. Although its argument is 
tighter than is sometimes recognized, our text of Book VIII has 
occasional gaps and a rambling quality not found elsewhere in Hooker. 
This is what the several collections of sources help explain. If Hooker 
worked up his material for this book in the same way as we have seen 
him using his notes for Book VI — first transcribing sources under a 
topical heading, then drafting and redrafting passages based on those 
sources — there would have been a stage before final revision at which 
he had in hand stylistically finished essays on an assortment of particu- 
lar points falling within the general plan of the book but had not yet 
woven them together to form integrated, nonrepetitive larger units. 
This is just the impression given by parts of the surviving text of Book 
VIII (especially chapter 6). With our present awareness of Hooker's 
working methods, we need not attribute such imperfections to tam- 
pering. The notes thus confirm an already strong case for Book VIII's 

To say that Hooker's chief aim in the Lawes was the legitimation of 
episcopal and royal authority may seem to suggest that he was simply 
a defender of the status quo, an advocate with a brief. This would be 
misleading. In Hooker's work the process of legitimation is complex, 
involving not only the contention that things established are permissi- 
ble by various theological and historical standards, but also a coherent 
and more or less creative interpretation of those things which, if 
generally absorbed and respected, would help make them, not merely 
permissible, but genuinely desirable. This is clear enough with regard 
to the persuasive account of Prayer Book services in Book V, which 
presents the prescribed offices in the context of a psychologically and 
socially dense devotional theology previously unexpressed. With 

16 See Peter Lake, Anglicans and Puritans?, p. 164, and Introduction to Book V, 
pp. 186-187, above. 


Three Last Books and Autograph Notes 

regard to the royal supremacy in the English church, Hooker's con- 
structive interpretation of what he was defending took the form of a 
constitutionalism evident to some extent in Book VIII as belatedly 
published and confirmed in two ways in the Autograph Notes. 

The detailed discussion of English church law planned for Book VI 
would have given both grounding and emphasis to statements in Book 
VIII on the king's subordination to law, statements which have hither- 
to sounded well-intentioned but somewhat hollow. Thus, for exam- 
ple, Hooker endorses the challenge to secular absolutism thrown down 
by Ambrose, the aristocratic fourth-century bishop of Milan, "A good 
emperor is within the church, not over it." Hooker gives this dictum 
an explicitly constitutionalist interpretation: "for the received lawes 
and liberties of the Church, the King hath supreme authoritie and 
power but against them none" (VIII. 3. 3; 3:347.17-19). Such a state- 
ment, remarkable even by itself, would have gained in force if Hook- 
er, following Sandys's advice, had thoroughly (and persuasively) 
unfolded the received laws of the English church in an earlier book. 

A major difficulty with a consistently constitutionalist reading of 
Hooker is his apparent insistence in the concluding chapter of the 
Lawes that kings are incorrigible — exempt from correction or deposi- 
tion by their subjects. To be sure, Hooker only defends the crown's 
exemption from ordinary processes of ecclesiastical censure. He explic- 
itly states that, since his purpose is "not to oppugne any save only that 
which Reformers hold" (VTII.9.2; 3:437.4-5), he will discuss the general 
question of whether kings are exempt from coercive censure in all 
circumstances but will not attempt to decide it. After presenting one 
argument against the possibility of correcting a supreme ruler, howev- 
er, he does not in fact discuss the general question further but only 
offers a refutation of historical examples used by reformers (and Ro- 
man Catholics) to support the church's ordinary right of censure. This 
gives his work at its close a definitely absolutist tone. 

While the notes for this chapter do not reverse the direction of the 
argument, they do underline Hooker's declaration at the beginning of 
the chapter that he would not attempt to determine the general consti- 
tutional possibility of correcting an erring ruler. Inspection of the 
notes shows that Hooker did indeed plan to present arguments on 
both sides of this general question, apparently at some length (see 



3:503.18— 504. 2.n, below). Unfortunately, we cannot tell what argu- 
ments he would have brought forward for formal legal procedures for 
censure or deposition, but the topical headings listed for the other side 
of the question show clearly that the discussion was to be a funda- 
mental one. Thus, instead of a single general argument against the 
possibility of disciplining a supreme ruler, followed by denials that 
incidents such as Ambrose's purported excommunication of the 
emperor Theodosius provided unqualified support for royal corrigibil- 
ity, the Autograph Notes show that Hooker intended to provide an 
extensive discussion of the general question, with several arguments on 
each side, and only then an impugning of "that which Reformers 

We may not complete Hooker's chapter on the (in)corrigibility of 
supreme rulers to suit ourselves, yet in the political climate of late 
Elizabethan England, the bare intention to provide a neutral discussion 
of this ultimate problem for constitutional theory is surely noteworthy. 
After such a discussion, Hooker's denial of ordinary relevance to 
Ambrose's treatment of Theodosius might have seemed even more 
decisive than it does now, but the effect of the chapter as a whole 
might well have been to leave the larger question genuinely open — to 
be decided by that community of which, on Hooker's principles, the 
king is a principal part, but still, only a part. 

iv. The Three Last Books and the First Five 

The traditional judgment that Hooker's importance lies principally 
in the earlier parts of the Lawes is not simply mistaken. If he himself 
thought of Book V as merely a creditable presentation of one side in 
a dispute about "the bare and naked difference of a few ceremonies," 
then he greatly underestimated the need for a coherent, sacramentally- 
centered theology of public devotion in a culture well on the way to 
private piety and public materialism. If he thought of the first books of 
the Lawes as only a survey of obvious traditional principles and an 

On the authority of the community in Hooker, see Introduction to Book VIII, 
pp. 369-375, below. 


Three Last Books and Autograph Notes 

application of them against a narrow biblicism, he greatly overestimat- 
ed the capacity of later thinkers to maintain a single vision of religion, 
ethics, and science. To take the three last books seriously as dealing 
with the "weightiest remaines" of the challenge to English ecclesiasti- 
cal polity implies no derogation of the earlier books. The point, rather, 
is that Hooker's treatises on first principles and public worship in 
Books I— V were not written in a scholarly or pious vacuum. They 
were written with a view to the manifestation of those principles and 
practices in the life of an evolving, dynamic, ultimately self-governing 
national community. 

As he explained his method of writing at the beginning of Book I, 
the "particular decisions" of the later books were to make "more 
plaine" whatever might be unclear in the earlier parts of the work. At 
the same time, however, those particular decisions — including the 
political determinations of the three last books — would appear "more 
strong" when the earlier "generall meditations" had been read before 
(1.1.2). For some time it has been easier to read the various parts of 
the Lawes separately, for it is difficult to find public manifestations in 
modern life of ideas such as those Hooker presents at the beginning of 
his work. And if the best modern political institutions have surprising 
affinities with the constitutionalism of Book VIII, these institutions are 
seldom justified today by reference to a synoptic vision of all reality. 
The easier reading may not be the better one, however, whether we 
are interested in understanding Hooker's work or learning from it. It 
may be more fruitful to read the Lawes as the coherent whole which, 
despite its length and the vicissitudes of its survival, it substantially 
succeeds in being. Attention to Hooker's account of the personal 
virtue and public discipline of repentance and to his arguments for the 
lawfulness of episcopal dignity and royal ecclesiastical dominion — in 
particular an appreciation of the constructive rather than purely defen- 
sive character of the argument — is essential to such a reading. 







Contayningan aunfwercvnto aTreatife called, 
The Learned Difcottrfe of EccL Government, 
otherwifc intituled, 
\A hriefe and f Line declaration concerning the defires of all the 

ftithfull Mintfiers th*t bane, anddofeekffir the diftiflint And 

reformation of the Church ofEngtaride. 

Comprehending likewife an aunfwere to the arguments in a Trcatife named 
The iudgement of a mofi Reverend and Learned 
man from beyond the Seas,&c. 

Aunfvvering atfb to the argumentes of Caluine , Beza , and Da- 
nsus, with other our Reuerend learned Brethren , befides Camalis and Bo- 

dinus, both for the regiment of women , and in defence of her Maieftic, and 
of all other Chrifttan Princes fupreme Gouernmcnt jv 

in Ecclefiafticall cauies, 

The Tetrafchie that our Brethren would ere<5t in euery particular cqngre- 

gotiorty tfDofttrs, Tajtirs, Gotterntrs And Deacons fvith their feuerall 

and ioyntauthoritie in Elections, Excommunications, Synodall 

Conftitutions and other Ecclefiafticall matters. 

Aunfwered by John Bridges Dcsne of Sarum. 

Come and See. Z? Take it vp and Read. 

O^ foh.ljt. grfL— - ' 

■ yr LONDON, 

Printed by lohn VVindet, for Thomas Chard. 

4. Tide page (reduced) of John Bridges' A Defence of the government established in the 
Church of Englande for ecclesiasticall matters (1587; STC 3734), a massive (1401 quarto 
pages) predecessor of Hooker's Dawes. 

Book VI 

Lee W. Gibbs 

i. Authenticity 

Book VI was first published in 1648 with Book VIII, probably 
under the auspices of Archbishop James Ussher almost fifty years after 
Hooker's death (3:xxxviii). It is the first and the most perplexing of 
the notorious "three last books" on power that deal with what Hook- 
er describes as "the weightiest and last remaines" of his controversy 
with the disciplinarians, namely: "Jurisdiction [Book VI], Dignitie [Book 
VII], and Dominion Ecclesiastical [Book VIII]" (VI.1.1; 3:2.15-16). ' 
Book VI bears special significance because Hooker may have been 
revising it at the time of his death — if indeed he had not completed 
the final draft, as several of his contemporaries testified; it is also the 
point upon which the posthumous publication of the three last books 
by his literary executors foundered. 

Hooker's authorship of the material traditionally published as Book 
VI has never been seriously challenged. The head-title is not problem- 
atic, for it explicitly describes the content of the treatise as a polemic 
against the disciplinarian office of lay elders: 

See Introduction, The Three Last Books and Hooker's Autograph Notes, pp. 
237-242, above. 

John Spenser wrote in his Preface to the 1604 edition of Books I-V of the 
Lawes that "he lived till he sawe them perfected; and . . . dyed as it were in the travell 
of them . . ." (1:348, this edn.), and William Covel wrote in his 1603 defence of 
Books I-V, A Just and Temperate Defence of the five books of Ecclesiastical Policie by JR.. 
Hooker (STC 5881): "Concerning those three Books of his, which from his own 
mouth I am informed that they were finished ..." (pp. 149—150). Sisson discounted 
these witnesses, adjudging Covel's source to be Spenser, as "The Legend of the Destruc- 
tion of Hooker's Manuscripts" (§1), and no evidence surfaced in the preparation of this 
edition to dispute Sisson's account. Georges Edelen, however, is prepared to argue, in a 
forthcoming biography of Hooker, that Spenser's testimony ought to be accepted. 



Conteyning their fift assertion, which is, That our Lawes are 
corruptand repugnant to the Lawes of God in matter belonging to the 
power of Ecclesiasticall Jurisdiction, in that wee have not throughout all 
Churches certayne Lay-elders established for the exercise of that power. 
The question betweene us, whether all Congregations or Parishes ought 
to have laie Elders invested with power of Jurisdiction in Spirituall causes. 

This description corresponds with Hooker's summary of the content 
of Book VI in the 1593 Preface: 

Of those foure bookes which remaine and are bestowed about the special- 
ities of that cause which lyeth in controversie, . . . The second and third 
are concerning the power of jurisdiction: the one, whether laymen, such as 
your governing Elders are, ought in all congregations for ever to be 
invested with that power .... (Pref. 7.6; 1:35.27—36.1) 

A third description of Book VI given at the end of the Preface coin- 
cides with the previous two: "The sixt, of the power of jurisdiction, 
which the reformed platforme claymeth unto layelders, with others" 

Moreover, in the first part of the published treatise, Hooker directly 
addressed the designated topic of lay elders in its historical and polemi- 
cal setting (chap. 1), followed by a general discussion of the nature of 
spiritual jurisdiction and a distinction between "the power of Eccle- 
siasticall order" and "the power of Jurisdiction Ecclesiasticall" (chap. 
2). The major problem with the traditional Book VI does not arise 
until the end of chapter 2 and the beginning of chapter 3, where 
Hooker further defines spiritual jurisdiction, a doctrine "referred unto 
action," in terms of its "chiefest end" namely, "poenitence." Keble ob- 
served that from this point on Hooker seems to switch opponents from 
Geneva to Rome and to replace the rest of his assigned refutation of 
congregational lay elders with what appear to be "a series of dissertations 
on Primitive and Romish penance" (l:xxxiv— xxxix). After a brief 

In his edition of the 1648 text of Book VI under the title Confession and 
Absolution: Being the Sixth Book of the Laws of Ecclesiastical Polity (London, 1901), John 
Harding accepted Keble's argument that an independent "treatise upon Penitence" 


Book VI 

discussion of repentance as a virtue, Hooker proceeds to elaborate 
throughout the rest of the treatise upon the three traditional parts of 
the medieval Christian sacrament of Penance, namely: contrition (the 
last part of chap. 3), confession (chap. 4), and satisfaction (chap. 5), to 
which he appends an extensive discussion of absolution (chap. 6). 

When Keble became acquainted with the notes by George Cranmer 
and Edwin Sandys on the earlier and now lost manuscript draft of 
Book VI, he thought that he had found the solution to the apparent 
anomaly. He argued that the original Book VI, as reflected in the 
critical notes by Cranmer and Sandys, really addressed the issue of lay 
elders and was a different work entirely from "the treatise on repent- 
ance" mistakenly interpolated into the Lawes. Following the lead of 
Walton, Keble surmised that the original draft of Book VI was sup- 
pressed by a small band of zealous Puritans who were particularly 
overwrought concerning the issue of lay elders, which was crucial to 
their cause {Life, Keble, 1:91-92). Recent scholars, however, have 
agreed that the text published in 1648, while not the whole of Hook- 
er's intended treatise against lay elders, is an essential and coherent part 
of that polemic and ought therefore to be published in its traditional 
place as Book VI of the Lawes. 

Raymond Aaron Houk argued on internal grounds the plausibility 
of regarding the extant sixth book as an integral part of Hooker's 
revision. He observed, without elaboration, that the content of the 

had been written by Hooker and later interpolated into the main body of the Lawes, 
perhaps by Hooker himself, but more likely by a later editor. W. Speed Hill found no 
concern in the last three chapters of the traditional Book VI for the problem of 
"jurisdiction" as it was raised by the disciplinarians with regard to their office of lay 
elders; see "Hooker's Polity: The Problem of the 'Three Last Books,'" Huntington 
Library Quarterly, 34 (1971): 322-324, 330. But he acknowledged the possible inclu- 
sion of Book VI as integral to the Lawes in light of a new and detailed commentary 
"constructed within the context . . . of the history, occasion, and sponsorship of the 
Polity' (p. 336). 

Keble was the first to print these notes in his 1836 edition of Hooker's Works 
(3.1:133-168); he was also the first to describe the general content and arrangement 
of Hooker's material in the missing draft as reconstructed from the notes of Cranmer 
and Sandys (1888 edn., l:xxxvi— xxxvii); and see 3:xxx-xxxiii and 105-106, this edn., 
and pp. 41—43 and 233-237, above. 



book as published does in fact constitute "a foundation for an intelli- 
gent and discriminating treatment of the whole subject of lay elders 
and the function they were supposed to exercise in ecclesiastical 
affairs." Hardin Craig accepted this thesis, along with Houk's further 
argument that the inclusion of the 1648 version of Book VI with the 
lost draft seen and commented upon by Cranmer and Sandys would 
have exemplified Hooker's characteristic division of his material into 
"generalities" and "specialties." 

Meanwhile, on the basis of court records of the early seventeenth 
century, C. J. Sisson identified the bulk of Book VI published in 1648 
with "the tract of confession" that precipitated the disagreement be- 
tween Lancelot Andrewes and Edwin Sandys over its insertion into the 
Lawes that aborted the posthumous publication of the three last books 
by Hooker's literary executors. Sisson also added substantially to the 
case for regarding the 1648 version of Book VI on internal grounds as 

Hooker's long discussion of confession, public and private, in the 
light of its history, ends with a statement of the present position 
of the Church of England in the matter, and asserts the 'peniten- 
tial jurisdiction' of its ministers, and 'our power and authority to 
release sin'. Confession, penitence and absolution, in his view, 
are the safeguards of the principal means of grace, the Eucharist, 
and the discipline is in the hands of the appointed ministers of 
the Church. Nothing could be more germane than this, and 
other arguments in the 'tract', to the general question of the 
jurisdiction of the ministry, as against that of lay-elders, (p. 105) 

While he did not address the basic issue of the relation of the 
original missing draft of Book VI to the traditional published version 
of 1648, Rudolph Almasy largely reconstructed the original lost draft 
by reading the Notes of Cranmer and Sandys in the context of the 

5 Book VIII (1931), pp. 71-72, 101. 
"Of the Laws of Ecclesiastical Polity — First Form," p. 98. 

7 Sisson, pp. 14-17, 99-102, and 127-56. See also Hill, "The Problem of the 
'Three Last Books,' " pp. 321—326; Stanwood, Textual Introduction, 3:xiii— xix; and 
Laetitia Yeandle, Textual Introduction, 5:xiii-xvii, this edn. 


Book VI 

polemical literature of the time, and especially in light of the Whit- 
gift-Cartwright exchange. The most comprehensive case to date, 
however, for understanding the traditional Book VI as an essential and 
coherent part of Hooker's refutation of the disciplinarian office of lay 
elders (and of his corollary effort not only to defend but also to reform 
and further establish the existing orders and institutions of the Church 
in England) has been made on the basis of internal evidence by Olivier 
Loyer and A. S. McGrade. 

However great the misfortune that the initial draft (and, possibly, a 
completed revision) was lost, the discovery of new manuscripts, the 
cumulative insights of these scholars, and further investigation into the 
interrelated history of penance, church discipline (especially excommu- 
nication), and ecclesiastical courts taken together now make possible the 
reconstruction of a reasonably accurate version of the missing Book VI. 

The following reconstruction of a hypothetically complete Book VI 
is the one defended and analyzed in the remaining sections of this 
Introduction. 1648 refers to the traditional Book VI (3:1-103), 1593 
to the original and now lost manuscript of Book VI that can be 
partially reconstructed from Cranmer's and Sandys's Notes (3:107— 
140), the foliation refers to that of Hooker's lost manuscript record- 
ed by Cranmer and Sandys in the left margin of these Notes, and 
"Autograph Notes" refers to those parts of Dublin MS. 364 that deal 
with Book VI (3:466.16-490.6). 

I. General Introduction 

A. Historical situation and rhetorical appeal (1648: chap. 1) 

B. The nature of spiritual jurisdiction — elaborated in terms of its 
chief end, repentance (1648: chap. 2; 1593: fol. 1, 3:107.8- 
26, 130.18-26; Autograph Notes: 3:466.16-469.13) 

"Richard Hooker's Book VI: A Reconstruction," Huntington Library Quarterly, 
42 (1979): 117-139. 

9 Loyer, 1:63-78, 2:609-610, 721-723, and McGrade, "Repentance and Spiritual 
Power," Journal oj Ecclesiastical History, 29.2 (1978): 163-176; see also Stanwood, 3:xiii, 
xxvi-xliv, and Lee W. Gibbs, "Richard Hooker's Via Media Doctrine of Repent- 
ance," Harvard Theological Review, 84 (1991): 59-74. 

Keble's summary of its topics (l:xxxvi) is reprinted above, 3:xxxii— xxxiii. 



II. Spiritual Jurisdiction — The Inner Penitential Forum: administra- 
tion of the power of the keys, binding/ excommunicating and 
loosing/absolving a clerical and not a lay office; confession and 
declaration of absolution in the ancient church and in the 
Church of England public and not a sacrament administered in 

A. The virtue and discipline of repentance; the infused virtue of 
contrition as the first part of repentance (1648: chap. 3) 

B. Confession as the second part of repentance (1648: chap. 4) 

C. Satisfaction as the third part of penance (1648: chap. 5, chap. 
6.15-18, 3:97.9-103.19) 

D. Absolution (1648: chap. 6.1-14, 3:69.14-97.8) 

III. Spiritual Jurisdiction — The External Canonical Forum (1593: 
fols. 2-85, 3:108.1-130.11, 130.27-140.12; Autograph Notes, 

A. Ecclesiastical courts (1593: fols. 2-21, 3:108.1-112.31, 130. 
27-134.5; Autograph Notes, 3:469.14-490.6) 

1 . What causes are spiritual; the qualifications of ecclesiasti- 
cal court judges (1593: fols. 2-4, 3:108.1-23, 130.36- 
132.13; Autograph Notes: 3:471.31-477.14, 486.13- 

2. The form and manner of proceeding in ecclesiastical 
causes (Autograph Notes, 3:477.19-481.23) 

3. The punishments necessary in spiritual process (1593: 
fols. 5-21, 3:108.24-112.31, 132.14-134.5; Autograph 
Notes: 3:481.24-483.2) 

4. The care which justice hath always had to uphold ecclesi- 
astical jurisdictions and courts (Autograph Notes: 3:483. 

B. Refutation of disciplinarian proof-texts from Scripture and 
the church Fathers (1593: fols. 23-85, 3:113.1-130.11, 134. 

1. The disciplinarian office of lay elders has no foundation 
in the Old Testament; the polity of the people of God 
before Christ, especially as manifest in the Sanhedrin, was 
not therefore "transferred" by Christ to the church 


Book VI 

(1593: fols. 23-49, 3:113.1-117.34, 134.6-136.26) 

2. The disciplinarian office of lay elders has no foundation 
in the New Testament — the time of Christ and his apos- 
tles (1593: fols. 50-67, 3:117.35-126.16, 136.27-138.30) 

3. The disciplinarian office of lay elders has no foundation 
in the teaching of the church Fathers (1593: fols. 72-85, 
3:127.13-130.11, 139.18-140.12) 

This hypothetical reconstruction implies that even though the office 
of "lay elders" was the particular issue that Hooker was to discuss at 
this point, his manner of arguing from foundations or "first principles" 
meant that either initially or in revision, the general discussion of 
"jurisdiction" as a basis for what was to follow in Books VI— VIII 
became the major topic (I, II, and III.A of the above outline), and the 
appropriate disposition of the issue of lay elders a necessary conclusion 

U. Occasion and Date 

The discovery of Hooker's Autograph Notes provides the most 
substantial evidence for establishing the coherence not only of the lost 
original and the extant traditional versions of Book VI but also of "the 
three last books" as a whole. A common outline of topics can be 
discerned in the works of Hooker's disciplinarian opponents, Walter 
Travers, the anonymous Admonitioners, and Thomas Cartwright. 
Behind them the general sequence of topics and much of the content 
treated by the precisionists can be discerned in the fourth book of 
Calvin's Institutes. 

Although the foundation of Hooker's book against lay elders, along 
with that of the other books of the Lawes, was laid in the 1585-1586 
Temple controversy with Travers, Book VI had a special relevance 

Since Calvin was a principal source for all English disciplinarians, and since 
Whitgift and Travers both followed the outline of topics and arguments set forth in 
the first and second Admonitions, Hooker was necessarily indebted to this same order 
of topics when he took up where Whitgift left off in answering Cartwright. 

Walton, Life, in Keble, 1:51-52, 65, 67. Part of the debate between Hooker 



to Hooker's dispute with Travers there, for not only did Travers want 
to see the Calvinist model of church polity, including the office of lay 
elders, established throughout England, he moved to put it in place in 


the Temple church itself. A decade earlier, he had laid down the 
essential disciplinarian tenets with regard to the office of lay elders. In 
A Full and Plaine Declaration, Travers had argued that the office of 
lay elders, who assist the preaching and teaching elders with the 
overseeing of the morals of the faithful, is a part of that polity for the 
church that was once and for all divinely revealed in Holy Scripture. 
Travers compares the consistory of elders (both clergy and lay) in 
the local parish with the ancient Athenian court known as the Areo- 
pagus, with the Roman Senate, and with the assembly of elders in the 
Jewish synagogues. Citing the key passage from Matthew 18:17, "Tel 
it unto the Church" — a text central to Hooker's argument in both 
versions of Book VI — Travers concludes that the form of government 
among the Jews was "translated" by Christ to his church. In short, the 
office of lay elders has its original precedent and legitimation in the 
government of the Jews described in the Old Testament; it is con- 

and Travers at the Temple was over the form of church government, and part was 
doctrinal. In the dispute over the sermons on justification, for example, Travers was 
distressed with Hooker's thesis that "they of the church of Rome may be saved by such a 
fayth of Christ as they have and a generall repentaunce of all their errours, not withstanding 
theire opinion of justification in part by theire workes and merits" (5.201.29—202.3, this edn.; 
compare Justification, 5:142.1—5). Hooker also rejected in these sermons the Roman 
Catholic "sacramente (as they terme it) of pennaunce, which sacramente hath force to 
conferre grace anewe" and "changeth the punishemente eternall into a temporall 
satisfactory punishemente" (5:111.28-112.2) — positions Hooker also attacks in the 
1648 Book VI. 

13 See Hill, "Evolution," S.R.H., p. 122 and nn. 19-21. 

Ecclesiasticae disciplinae . . . explicatio, trans. Cartwright, pp. 6—7, 155—177 (see pp. 
150-151, n. 49, above); and see Hill, "Evolution," p. 120, n. 12. Travers's defense of 
the office of congregational lay elders within the larger context of Calvinist discipline 
was followed by a number of his colleagues, including William Fulke, A Briefe and 
Plaine Declaration, also known as A Learned Discourse (London: R. Waldegrave, 1584; 
STC 10395), Dudley Fenner, A Counter-poyson (London: R. Waldegrave, [1584]; 
STC 10770), and John Udall, A Demonstration of the Trueth of that Discipline ([East 
Molesey: R. Waldegrave, 1588]; STC 24499). For a bibliographical summary, see 
Milward, pp. 77-83. 


Book VI 

firmed by the teachings of the New Testament and by the early 
church Fathers. 

Travers further distinguishes between the kinds of punishment that 
may rightly be meted out by a spiritual court of ecclesiastical elders 
that has jurisdiction over the souls and consciences of persons: admo- 
nitions that are verbal only and admonitions that have some kind of 
punishment attached. The only kinds of punishment that may be 
legitimately imposed by a spiritual court are separation or exclusion 
from the Lord's Supper, excommunication or expulsion from the church 
imposed upon adamant sinners who cannot otherwise be brought to 
repentance, and perhaps execration or anathema. Travers follows Calvin in 
assuming that the civil authorities will enforce with their coercive 
powers the decisions of the spiritual courts: excommunication carried — 
at least theoretically — the civil penalty of a break in all communication 
with "the faithful." Only Luther, among the magisterial Reformers, 
broke the link between ecclesiastical excommunication and civil 

Travers argues at some length that ecclesiastical courts made up of 
assemblies of elders do not infringe upon the prince's authority in the 
civil courts, for they do not deal with civil matters or use punishments 
meted out by the civil courts, whether monetary fines, imprisonment, 
or execution. In this context, Travers sharply criticizes the established 
ecclesiastical court system in England for confusing ecclesiastical and 
civil cases, for trivializing the use of excommunication, and for using 
corporal and material punishments that are not fitting for spiritual 
jurisdiction. He also mentions in passing that the authority of the 
elders to impose a sentence of suspension or excommunication implies 
their authority to lift the sentence at the time of an individual's re- 

Travers's platform had already been formulated in the first and 
second Admonitions to Parliament, which in turn were grounded in the 
Genevan polity. Perusal of the Admonitions reveals the same pattern of 
defending the office of lay elders as an essential part of the larger 
presbyterian platform of ecclesiastical polity, alongside discussions of 
the same interrelated issues of church discipline (private admonition, 
suspension, excommunication, execration or anathema, and, upon 
repentance, absolution), bishops and their courts, and the proper rela- 



tion of the lay prince to the church in general and to its discipline in 

Although confrontation with Travers at the Temple provided the 
initial impulse for Hooker to write the Lawes, Cartwright, who had 
contributed the most substantial theological treatises in defense of the 
disciplinarian cause, emerged as the major opponent responsible for 
precipitating an attack upon the whole movement from a quite differ- 
ent strategic perspective. Cartwright's last two treatises, The Second 
Replie (1575) and The Rest of the Second Replie (1577), had remained 
unanswered by Whitgift, who had become archbishop of Canter- 
bury, where he was instrumental in securing Hooker's maintenance in 
1591 through appointments to benefices at Boscombe and Salisbury. 
In the meanwhile, Hooker continued his primary residence in London 
at the home of his father-in-law, John Churchman, where he worked 
on the Lawes in consultation with Cranmer, Sandys, and perhaps 
Whitgift until being presented to the living of Bishopsbourne by the 



The entire controversy between Whitgift and Cartwright strictly 
followed the outline of topics set out in the first Admonition. Whitgift's 
initial treatise, An Answere to a Certen Libell intituled, An Admonition, 
was a step-by-step refutation. On one occasion, for example, 
Cartwright rebuked Whitgift for the "impropriety" of departing from 
the prescribed order by discussing the topic of excommunication before 

An Admonition to the Parliament (STC 10847), and A Second Admonition to the 
Parliament (STC 4713; both 1572), in P.M., pp. 8-37 and 85-133. 

While Craig emphasized that Travers, not Cartwright, was Hooker's initial 
antagonist (pp. 93, 96, 102-103), Almasy argues that the Lawes is from beginning to 
end an answer to Cartwright's attacks against Whitgift ("A Reconstruction," p. 118; 
compare p. 138). As to the actual writing of the Lawes, the positions of both Craig 
and Almasy must be taken into account, for Hooker presupposed and quoted from the 
works of both. Sandys exhorted Hooker: "I will here put you in mynd once for all, 
that you must needes set down Mr Cartwrights and W. T. woords at large in the 
margent of this booke wheresoever they are impugned" (3:137.20-22); as did 
Cranmer: "I could wishe that through all the bookes you should be carefull of the 
quotations both of their sentences and of other auctorityes alleaged (for in the former 
bookes you knowe there is a defect that way)" (3:129.4—7). 

See Introduction to The Preface, pp. 54—57, above. 


Book VI 
considering disciplinarian arguments concerning the origin and role of 


lay elders in Scripture and the ancient church. 

Whitgift's last published response to Cartwright on the issue of lay 
elders was in Tract 17, "Of the Seigniory or Government by Sen- 
iors," and Tract 18, "Of Excommunication, and in whom the execu- 
tion thereof doth consist," of The Defense of the Aunswere to the Admo- 
nition, against the Replie of T. C. (1574). 

Although Cartwright's The Second Replie (1575), and The Rest of the 
Second Replie (1577) do not substantially advance the arguments made 
in the first Replye, Cartwright was satisfied that the disciplinarian order 
of lay elders existed before the apostles' times, being "taken from the 
government of the people of God before and under the law," that it 
existed in the apostles' times as well, and that it was found after the 
apostles' times in the practice of the church. This biblical, apostolic, 
and post-apostolic foundation for the disciplinarian eldership was also 
the cornerstone for their hierarchy of tribunals or ecclesiastical courts, 
beginning with the local consistories and extending up through the 
presbyteries, the synods, and the national or general assemblies. In the 
draft of Book VI read and commented upon by Cranmer and Sandys, 
probably no later than 1593, Hooker resumed the establishment's 
attack against the position taken by Cartwright and other disciplinari- 
ans concerning lay elders and their involvement with decisions made 


by ecclesiastical courts. 

Evidence for the early date of the first draft of Book VI is both 
direct and indirect. Books II— IV are referred to by Cranmer as "the 
former bookes"; he also mentions Book VII on bishops. There is no 

A Replye to an Answere (1573), p. 173; for bibliographical details; see pp. 71-72, 
n. 152, above. 

19 Bayne (pp. xix-xx), Houk (pp. 70, 91, 94-96), Craig (pp. 92-93), Hill ("The 
Problem," p. 334n), and Stanwood (3:xvi, xix-xx, xxxi, n. 27) all agree that the 
initial versions of at least Books VI and VII were completed between 1593 and 1596. 
Evidence for the probability of the earlier 1593 date is marshalled by Haugaard, 
Introduction to The Preface, pp. 37—43, above. Cranmer and Sandys left England for 
the continent in the summer of 1596. Cranmer did not return to England until 1598, 
after which he soon departed for Ireland, where he was killed in 1599. Sandys did not 
return to England until 1600/1601. It is unlikely that either Cranmer or Sandys 
travelled in Europe with a manuscript copy of Book VI of the Lawes. 



mention of Book V (published late 1597) or of Book VIII. Neither 
reader alludes to any matters or books later than 1593. The events 
suggested in their notes are consistent with those reflected in the letter 
from Cranmer to Hooker Concerning the New Church Discipline, written 


in early 1593. The historical situation is more consistent with the 
anonymous publication of Richard Bancroft's two anti-disciplinarian 
treatises, Daungerous Positions and A Survay of the Pretended Holy Disci- 
pline in 1593 than with his later ascendancy as bishop of London 
(1597) or the time of Hooker's intimate friendship with Hadrian 
Saravia in Kent (1595—1600). And finally, there is Sandys's reference 
to the session of the 1593 Parliament that is still fresh in his mind (see 
pp. 27-37, above). 

Specifically, Sandys alludes to "Mr Speaker of the Parliament" as 
having proved that the prince in England is "a mixt person" (3:133. 
26—27). Keble concluded that Sandys's reference here was to Christo- 
pher Yelverton, who was the Speaker in 1597; it is far more likely, 
however, that Sandys was referring to the session of 1593 where he 
himself was a member and where the first volume of Hooker's Lawes 
was used to support the legislation that would include disciplinarians 
with Roman Catholics under a new recusancy bill. Stanwood has 
plausibly argued that the reference to "Mr Speaker" is to Speaker 
Edward Coke's second "disabling" speech given on 22 February, in 
which he urged that "the kings of England, ever since Henry Ill's 
time, have maintained themselves to be the supreme head over all 
causes within their own dominions"; but the reference may just as 
well have been to Coke's speech presented on February 28 and 
personally commissioned by Queen Elizabeth to enforce her will that 
the parliament not legislate concerning church affairs in general, and 

particularly concerning matters having to do with the ecclesiastical 

_* 21 

Cranmer's and Sandys's critiques were therefore also completed in 

1593. In their light, and as a result of his own further thinking about 

its limited nature, Hooker set about the task of rewriting and rethink- 

Evidence for the 1593 date is summarized above, pp. 41—43. 
See 3:xxxi, this edn. For the first speech, see The Parliamentary or Constitutional 
History of England (London, 1763), 4:347-348; for the second, see 4:394-396. 


Book VI 

ing his initial draft. Part of the transitional stage in the revision of 
Book VI can be discerned, as McGrade points out (pp. 237—239, 
above), in that part of Hooker's Autograph Notes directly pertaining 
to Book VI (3:466.16—490.6), where Hooker seems to be gathering a 
mass of legal texts in response to Sandys's request that he identify and 
justify those cases which legitimately fell under the jurisdiction of 
ecclesiastical courts and that he distinguish them from those cases that 
were "mixed," that is, validly treated in the civil courts as well. 
Because of Hooker's citation of the second edition of Richard Cosin's 
An Apologie: of and for Sundrie Proceedings by Jurisdiction Ecclesiasticall 
(1593), Stanwood brackets the time of their composition "to the 
period after 1593, after the publication of the Preface and Books I— IV 
and before the publication of Book V in 1597" (3:xxx). 

We do not know whether Hooker completed revising Book VI or 
whether he was still engaged in it at the time of his death. The intro- 
duction (chaps. 1—2) of the 1648 text was probably, as Keble and 
others have observed, either a part of or very similar to the introduc- 
tion in the original draft read by Cranmer and Sandys. Chapters 3— 
6 may then be regarded as an unfinished draft of the second major 
part of the enlarged book. The final revision and expansion of the 
third major part defending the English ecclesiastical court system and 
refuting concrete arguments for the disciplinarian office of lay elders 
(that is, the revision of the initial draft completed in 1593), was either 
cut off in an unfinished state by Hooker's premature death, or, if he 
had in fact finished it, lost, stolen, or destroyed (see above, p. 249, n. 
2, and pp. 237—239, above). 

m. Sources 

A survey of Hooker's use of sources for Book VI entails an analysis 
of those he actually employs in the 1648 version; a reconstruction of 
those he used in the 1 593 draft (based upon the notes of Cranmer and 

Initial it may have been, but not short: 85 folios in Pullen's hand would make 
it 38% the length of Book V or 189 pages in this edition. 

The historical situation alluded to by Hooker in chap. 1 of the 1648 text is 
compatible with events just before or just after 1593; see 3:2.1— 21.n., below. 



Sandys and the current polemical literature, especially the Whitgift- 
Cartwright exchange); and the mass of legal material in the Autograph 
Notes he was assembling to expand the section on ecclesiastical 
courts — a topic only briefly touched upon in the 1593 draft. 

The Traditional 1648 Version 

Many of Hooker's sources in the 1648 text can be found in the 
earlier penitential literature, and some of these sources overlap cita- 
tions made by the disciplinarians in support of the office of lay elders. 
As elsewhere in the Lawes, biblical texts are the most numerous and 
important of Hooker's sources. In one notable passage, for example, 
he argues his own position (and that of the Church of England) 
concerning the declaratory nature of a priest's absolution almost 
entirely on the basis of Scripture (6.8; 3:80.30—82.20). He employs the 
New Testament more than the Old, with some forty-two direct or 
indirect citations or references to Old Testament texts and some 
sixty-seven to the New. Old Testament references include such 
penitential themes as the repentance of the Ninevites (Jonah); David's 
repentance after being rebuked by the prophet Nathan (2 Samuel); the 
penitential Psalms (especially Psalms 51 and 6); and the prophetic 
exhortation to repent (return to the Lord), to express sorrow and 
lamentations for sins, and to seek forgiveness (Isaiah, Jeremiah, Micah, 
Malachi, and Joel). References to the Gospels clearly predominate 
among citations of the New Testament, beginning with fourteen to 
Matthew, seven each to Luke and John, and six to Mark. Three of 
these Gospel texts appear identically in two separate places, where 
Hooker has not yet made up his mind as to where he will finally leave 
the passage. By far the most significant use of Scripture in the 1648 
version of Book VI is Hooker's repeated reference, both direct and 
indirect, to the three intimately related proof-texts (Matthew 16:17— 
19, 18:15—18, and John 20:21—23), whose interpretation is central to 
Hooker's argument. These passages on the power of the keys and of 

References to Matt. 9:2, Mark 2:7, and Luke 5:21 are repeated in chaps. 6.1 
and 6.4 (3:69.18-20, b, and c; 73.3-6 and h). 


Book VI 

binding and loosing are at the very heart of the problem of spiritual 
jurisdiction, and the passage in chapter 4.1 (3:14.8—15.11) links the 
extant 1648 version of Book VI and the lost 1593 draft. The refer- 
ences to the excommunication and final restoration of the unrepentant 
man in 1 Corinthians 5:1—5 and 2 Corinthians 2:6—8 in this same 
passage were also repeatedly cited by the disciplinarians as proof that 
the whole church, represented by ministers and governing lay elders, 
was concerned with matters of ecclesiastical discipline. References to 
Acts feature passages and stories that deal with contrition, repentance, 
and forgiveness-restoration-absolution. Hooker twice cites James 5:14— 
16, a major proof-text for the office of lay elders, as part of an anti- 
Roman argument against private confession as a sacrament (4.5; 
3:23.5—26). There are additional references to 1 and 2 Corinthians, 
Revelation, 1 Timothy, James, Hebrews, 1 John, and Romans. 

The 1648 version of Book VI is unusual in comparison with other 
books of the Lawes in having only a single reference to a classical 
source, namely, to a quotation from the Emperor Tiberius recorded in 
Tacitus's Annates used by Hooker as a conspicuous heathen example 
of the problems caused by an overscrupulous conscience. 

Hooker makes heavy use of the church Fathers, both to expound 
his own thought and to controvert the position of medieval school- 
men and sixteenth-century Roman Catholic theologians on private 
auricular confession as a sacrament. Cyprian heads the list, with nine 
citations to his treatise De lapsis and seven to his epistles. The second 
largest number of citations is made to two treatises by Tertullian, De 
poenitentia and De pudicitia (On Chastity). All nine references to the 
former are approbative, particularly where the public nature of pen- 
ance in the ancient church is stressed, and including Tertullian's well 

See nn from 3.14.8 through 15.11. These texts have a long and controversial 
history of interpretation. They were used by Gratian and later medieval canonists to 
refer both to the power of remitting sins conferred upon all the apostles and also to 
the power of jurisdiction inhering in the papacy, where it was a power to be exer- 
cised in the external canonical forum as distinct from the internal forum of the 
sacrament of penance. See Brian Tierney, Foundations of the Conciliar Theory: The 
Contribution of the Medieval Canonists from Gratian to the Great Schism (Cambridge: The 
University Press, 1955; rpr. 1968), pp. 25-36. 



known definition of "confession" (e^o^oA,6yr|ai<;) as "a discipline of 
humiliation and submission, framing mens behaviour in such sort, as 
may be fittest to moove pitty" (4.6; 3:24.30-25.2). All of the refer- 
ences to De pudicitia, however, are made within a very brief span and 
are all negative, in accord with Hooker's opinion that this treatise 
reflects Tertullian's heretical, post-Montanist position and "the very 
sowernesse of his owne nature" (6.6; 3:76.6—15) that nothing could 
alter to make him incline toward leniency in the exercise of church 
discipline. In addition, there are eleven references to Chrysostom, 
acknowledged to have been more lenient than other church Fathers in 
his views on forgiveness for post-baptismal sins, and ten references to 
works of Augustine. 

Many of these quotations were at second hand. For example, 
Hooker probably found his one Greek quotation from Chrysostom in 
Beatus Rhenanus's "Admonitio ad lectorem de quibusdam Tertulliani 
dogmatis," in that scholar's edition of Tertullian's Opera. One Latin 
quotation from Chrysostom may have been drawn from Jewel's 
Defence of the Apologie, and another from Gratian's Decretum. Three of 
the ten references to Augustine were quoted by Gratian in that part of 
the Decretum known as "Tractatus de poenitentia," and another was 
quoted in book 4 of Peter Lombard's Sentences. Of the six quotations 
from Ambrose's De poenitentia, two are found in Gratian, one of 
which is also quoted by Lombard. One of the two passages from 
Jerome is quoted by Lombard, the passage from Leo I is quoted by 
Gratian, and the passage from Prosper of Aquitaine is quoted both by 
Lombard and Gratian. Hooker treats the church historians Sozomen, 
Nicephorus, and Socrates in a brief but concentrated section concern- 
ing a dispute between sixteenth-century Roman Catholic theologians 
over interpretation of a decision made in the early Greek church by 
Bishop Nectarius regarding the office of penitentiary priests — a dispute 

There are also references to Ambrose's De poenitentia, to John Cassian's Collatio 
20, and to works by Gregory of Nyssa, Basil the Great (spurious), Pseudo-Eusebius 
Emisenus, Jerome, Ignatius, Clement of Alexandria, Origen, Bishop Basil of Seleucia 
in Isauria, Marcus Eremus or Anchorita, Bishop Fulgentius of Ruspe, Gennadius of 
Marseilles, Salvian of Marseilles, and Bishop Victor of Vita. See Index for specific 


Book VI 

primarily between Baronius and Robert Bellarmine, with secondary 
consideration given to a position set forth by Johannes Hessells and 
supported by Pamelius (4.8-12; 3:33.18-42.9). All of the primary texts 
from the church historians were cited by Baronius in his Annates 
ecclesiastici (footnoted in chap. 4.10; 3:35. u) and by Bellarmine (cited in 
chap 4.11 and 12; 3:38.9-15, 42.5). Calvin discussed the same texts in 
a passage where he concludes that "the keys of binding and loosing" 
were not given to the universal sacerdotal order, and that Nectarius 
abrogated the rite of private confession {Institutes, 3.4.7). 

Hooker also utilizes material from church councils. There are five 
citations, sometimes in Greek and sometimes in Latin, of canons from 
the Council of Nicaea — all stressing the excessive severity of the early 
church with regard to the issue of forgiveness of post-baptismal sin 
and the increasing moderation of that extreme rigorism by the bish- 
ops. Three times he cites a passage from the Council of Florence 
(1439), which states the doctrine of Thomas Aquinas (and, later, of 
the Council of Trent) that the sacraments of the Old Law only 
prefigured those of the New, which alone contain and effect grace. 
Hooker emphasizes the key text from the Fourth Lateran Council of 
1215, which brought to a climax the development of the medieval 
Catholic doctrine that private confession before a priest is a sacrament 
that every faithful person must observe at least once a year. He also 
makes four references to decrees from the Council of Trent concern- 
ing the effectual grace of the sacraments of the New Law, the divine 
forgiveness caused by contrition perfected by charity, and absolution 
as the form of the sacrament of penance. Hooker refers twice to the 
Bohemian Confession published in chapter 5 of Harmonia confessionum 
fidei, orthodoxarum, et reformatarum ecclesiarum. The first of these refer- 
ences has to do with the institutionalization within Reformed church- 
es of public confession for public sins, the second with private confes- 

There is a problem in Hooker's use of the church historians. At least one of his 
five references to book 5.19 of Sozomen's Historia ecclesiastica, for example, is really to 
book 12.28 of Nicephorus's Ecdesiasticae historiae libri decern et octo, not cited by Hooker 
at all; see 3:33.20-26.n. 



sion to God in the presence of ministers as a merciful ordinance of 
great benefit to individual Christians. 

In his controversy with Rome over penance as a sacrament, Hook- 
er focuses upon Lombard's Sentences (five references), where he posi- 
tively cites passages that distinguish the three parts of penance as 
contrition, confession, and satisfaction, and that affirm that it is God 
alone who is able to forgive sins while the priest in absolution only 
declares divine forgiveness. Indeed, the commentaries on Lombard's 
Sentences were among the most important sources for the 1648 version 
of Book VI. There are seven references to works of Thomas: three 
to the Summa theologiae, two to the commentary on book 4 of Lom- 
bard's Sentences, and one each to De veritate and Opuscula 22. These 
seven references taken by themselves, however, do not accurately 
reflect the influence of the Angelic Doctor's philosophical theology 
upon the 1648 version of Book VI, particularly in chapter 3 where 
Hooker is discussing the relation of the virtue of repentance as a habit 
to contrition and to the broader doctrine of justification. Four of 
Hooker's five citations of Bonaventure's Quaestiones super quatuor libros 
Sententiarum are positive. Hooker agrees with Bonaventure's teaching 
that the remission of sins occurs only through faith in Christ and the 
benefits of his passion and that absolution from sin is due to the 
pardon of God and not dependent upon a priest's absolution. He 
rejects, however, Bonaventure's teaching that a priest's absolution, 
while not effecting sinners' divine forgiveness, does deliver from 
temporal punishments of purgatory. Other medieval scholastic works 
mentioned by Hooker include the Summa theologica by Alexander of 
Hales. He uses the authority of the great medieval Jewish philosopher 
and scholar, Moses Maimonides, to establish the origin of confession in 
ancient Judaism and to explain current Jewish liturgical practices. And in 
his anti-Roman polemic he addresses works written by sixteenth-century 
Roman Catholic scholastics, referring twelve times to Robert Bellar- 
mine's De sacramento poenitentiae or to his Controuersiam de sacramentis in 



In addition to those discussed below by Thomas and Bonaventure, others used 
included those by Duns Scotus, Pierre d'Ailly, William of Ockham, Durandus of Saint 
Pourcain, Domingo de Soto, John Capreolus, and Petrus Paludanus. See Index. 

Hooker also cites annotations on Cyprian's treatise De lapsis and on Tertullian's 


Book VI 

With regard to Protestant Reformers, Hooker twice appropriates 
works of Calvin: first, the Acta Synodi Tridentinae cum antidoto, where 
Calvin attacks the teaching that the sacraments are only "instrumental 
causes" of divine grace, and second, the Institutes, where Calvin allows 
private confession of one Christian to another after abuses have been 
removed. The single reference to Jewel's Defence of the Apologie also 
concerns the issue of "leaving private confession at liberty." The 
apparently isolated nature of this citation obscures the importance of 
this work for the structure and substance of the anti-Catholic polemic 
that occupies the bulk of the traditional Book VI. There is a single 
reference to a work by the French Protestant Antoine la Roche de 
Chandieux (1534—1591), who Hebraized his name as Sadeel. 

The First (and Now Missing) Draft of Book VI 

Reconstruction of the sources used by Hooker in the now lost 
version of Book VI is possible on the basis not only of the Cran- 
mer-Sandys notes but also from contemporary polemical literature, 
including works by Travers, the Admonitioners, and especially Cart- 
wright on the one hand, and by Cosin, Sutcliffe, and Whitgift on the 
other. Cranmer and Sandys often only name the author or work being 
cited by Hooker, or that they would like to see cited. At other times 
references or their contexts in the controversial literature are specified. 
Close reading of the polemical literature usually indicates what the 
source under discussion was or was most likely to have been. Hooker 
cited Old Testament proof-texts widely used by the disciplinarians to 
establish their office of lay elders, with particular emphasis upon those 
which concerned the origins and nature of the Jewish Sanhedrin. He 
therefore dealt with the key texts having to do with the alleged origin 
of the Sanhedrin in Moses' appointment of the seventy elders in 

De poenitentia by Pamelius, Annales ecclesiastici by Baronius (Cesare Baronio), De 
sacramentis by William Cardinal Allen, Defensorium by Alfonso Tostado, the commen- 
tary on Thomas Aquinas's Contra Gentiles by Ferrarius, Commentarii in quatuor Evange- 
listas by Juan Maldonado, "Admonitio ad lectorem de quibusdam Tertulliani dogmatis" 
by Rhenanus in his edition of Tertullian's Opera, In epistolam sancti Jacobi by Cajetan, 
and the annotation on James 5:16 in the Rheims Bible. 



Numbers 11:16-17 (understood in parallel with Moses' appointment 
of leaders as judges over different divisions of the people in Exodus 


18:25-26), and the further specification of the office of these elders 
as judges in Deuteronomy 16:18 and 17:8-13. 2 Chronicles 19:11 was 
interpreted to mean that King Jehosaphat later restored the original 
Mosaic system of discipline. Other New Testament references explicit- 
ly cited by Hooker concern the participation of Gamaliel (Acts 5:34- 
40 and 22:3) and Joseph of Arimathea (Mark 15:43 and other Gospel 
parallels) in the Sanhedrin that condemned Jesus to death. One of the 
basic issues at stake had to do with the interpretation of Matthew 
18:17 (see above, pp. 262-263 and n. 25). Hooker defined the general 
meaning of anathema on the basis of Romans 9:3, which he interpreted 
in the light of Exodus 32:32-33 (as had the Geneva Bible's editors). 
Both Cranmer and Sandys had trouble with this general sense of 
anathema as against its more specific sense as solemn excommunication 
pronounced by a bishop. Hooker also referred to 1 Timothy 5:14, "I 
will that younger women marry," which occurs in the context of his 
argument that judicial cases having to do with marriage and divorce 
traditionally and properly fall under the jurisdiction of the ecclesiastical 

Among Hooker's classical sources, Aristotle's Politics continues to be 
pervasive. For example, in Aristotle as in Hooker, the discussion of the 
kinds of constitution (7toA,iTeioc) quickly leads to a discussion of the 
courts and their personnel as drawn either from all the citizens or from 
a certain class. Hooker probably drew from Aristotle his references to 
Draco, the Athenian statesman and lawgiver of the seventh century 
BC, infamous for the severity of punishment in his laws, and to Solon, 
the Athenian lawgiver associated by Aristotle with the Areopagus — a 
court mentioned both by Travers in A Full and Plaine Declaration and 
by Cranmer (3:113.33-34). Moreover, Aristotle's well known distinc- 
tion between the major kinds of government (monarchy, oligarchy, 

The disciplinarian William Fulke based the presbyterian teaching about the lay 
eldership on Numbers 11:16 in A Briefe and Plaine Declaration (1584), pp. 19-20. John 
Bridges and Matthew Sutcliffe deny that the elders came from the seventy; see 
Bridges' A Defense of the Government Established (1587), p. 238, and Sutcliffe's De 
presbyterio (1591), chap. 4, p. 16, and chap. 2, pp. 7 and 9. 


Book VI 

democracy, and "mixt") lies behind the whole controversy between 
supporters of the establishment and the disciplinarians over church 
polity in general and over the role of lay elders within it (see 
3:113. 35. n). Hooker's other classical sources consist of a passage from 
Lucretius' De rerum natura, concerning Epicurus's opinion that the 
world was not created by God — a comfort to the conscience of the 
nonbeliever — and another from Livy's Decades. 

Cranmer lists references to the church Fathers that Hooker had to 
consider because they were alleged by his opponents in support of the 
office of lay elders: Ignatius, Cyprian, and Jerome (3:128). Hooker 
referred to Ignatius on the first folio of his manuscript, and Cranmer 
urged him to quote the passage. Hooker cites Gregory of Nyssa 
twice. There are at least three references to chapter 39 of Tertullian's 
Apologeticus aduersus Gentes, a text vigorously disputed in the Cartwright- 
Whitgift exchange and by Sutcliffe as well. Hooker also considered 
passages that had been quoted by Cartwright in support of the disci- 
plinarian office of lay elders from one of Cyprian's Epistles, from 
Jerome's Aduersus Luciferanos, and from chapter 5 of Pseudo-Ambrose's 
Commentarii in epistolam ad Timotheum I. The only early church histori- 
an mentioned by Hooker was Socrates, whose statement in Historia 
ecclesiastica concerning presbyters in Alexandria who were not allowed 
to address the public after the Arian disturbance had been cited by 
Cartwright in The Rest of the Second Replie. 

From canon law, Hooker cited a passage from the Decretales of 
Gregory IX concerning Pope Innocent Ill's disavowal of temporal 
jurisdiction in the dispute between King John and Philip Augustus in 
1204 — a text that was also recorded in the Autograph Notes (3:486.3— 
7; see also 393.29—394.7). Hooker's medieval sources also included at 

Keble argues that this reference to Ignatius may be one of the few places where 
the copy of the original Book VI seen by Cranmer and Sandys agreed with the 
present Book VI. This would be the case if Hooker actually referred to chap. 9 of 
Ignatius's Epistola ad Smymaeos, which he quotes in chap. 2.1 (3:4.20-22 and »'). But 
given the context of the controversy and Hooker's contemporary sources, the 
reference may just as well have been to chap. 3 of Ad Trallianos, mentioned by 
Cranmer (3:127.14—17), and quoted by Cartwright in The Rest of the Second Replie and 
by Sutcliffe on the first page of De presbyterio. 



least one reference to Elias the Levite (1472—1549), the Hebrew 
scholar whose Thisbetes Hooker had cited twice in Book V (20.3 and 
73.6; 2:74.« and 404.z). With regard to sixteenth-century Roman 
Catholic scholastics, Hooker referred to a comment by Pamelius, who 
published annotated editions of the works of Tertullian and Cyprian. 
Cranmer dismissed Pamelius as "a papist," whose opinion about what 
was or was not written by the ancient church Fathers did not have 
much credibility (3:128.17). Among the works by the English reform- 
ers, Hooker certainly had in front of him not only the works written 
by Whitgift against the disciplinarians but also those written by Sut- 
cliffe. The core of Hooker's argument in the original version of Book 
VI had already been set forth in the latter's A Treatise of Ecclesiasticall 
Discipline (1590) and in De presbyterio (1591). And he must also have 
been cognizant of the substance of the two works published in 1593 
by Richard Bancroft, A Suruay of the Pretended Holy Discipline and 


Daungerous Positions. 

Material Related to Book VI in the Autograph Notes 

Those of Hooker's Autograph Notes that deal specifically with 
Book VI were compiled in response to critical comments made by 


Sandys (3:130—133) and are almost exclusively legal in character. 
Hooker drew heavily for material to be added to his discussion of the 
English ecclesiastical courts and the cases that fell under their jurisdic- 
tion from William Lyndewode's Provinciale (see below, pp. 295—296 
and n. 66). He also drew extensively from the Decretales of Gregory 
IX, from Justinian's Digest in the Roman civil law, and from the De 
legibus et consuetudinibus Angliae of the great thirteenth-century English 
jurist, Henry de Bracton. And he had the second edition of Richard 
Cosin's An Apologie: of, and for Sundrie Proceedings by Jurisdiction Ecclesi- 
asticall (1593) to help him in his defense of the ecclesiastical courts 
against the charges of the disciplinarians, in his identification of those 

See n. 35, pp. 20-21, above. 
33 See above, pp. 237-242, and nn to 3:469.14-490.6. 


Book VI 
cases which traditionally and legitimately fell under the jurisdiction of 


those courts, and in his defense of the oath ex officio. 

iv. The Argument 

1. Spiritual Jurisdiction in General 

Since Hooker came to envision Book VI as less a refutation of the 
disciplinarian office of lay elders than a defense of the spiritual disci- 
pline established in the church and commonwealth of England, two 
descriptions of this office, which Hooker and his fellow apologists felt 
would undermine order and authority in both church and state are 
germane. The first is from one of Hooker's colleagues, Matthew Sut- 
cliffe, who, despite a clear establishment bias, gives a concise appraisal 
of the lay elders and their functions: 

First, the Elders shall have authoritie to make all orders and 
decrees, and abrogate the same. Secondlie, they shall have power 
to chuse officers in the Church, and to depose them. Thirdlie, 
they shall be judges in all causes of faith, doctrine, and manners, 
so farre as appertaineth to conscience. Lastlie, (that they want no 
meanes to bring under the rebellious) they shall have authoritie 
to admonish, suspend, excommunicate, and absolve. 

Another useful description of the authority exercised by presbyterian 
lay elders acting in concert with ordained clergy to oversee spiritual 
and moral affairs in local parishes has been given by Patrick Collinson: 

Many Protestants had for long agreed that spiritual and moral 
discipline could be usefully furnished in the local church by means 
of the congregational consistory: a court composed of the pastor 
and the lay officers called elders, in some measure representative 
of and responsible to the congregation. The presbyterians insisted 
on the absolute necessity of this institution, as alone embodying 
New Testament discipline, for them an indispensable mark of a 

See Autograph Notes, 3:481.18, and 3:xxi. 
35 A Treatise Of Ecclesiasticall Discipline (1590), p. 126. 



true church. . . . The presbyterians condemned both [the higher 
government of the church by Christian magistrates or by bishops] 
out of hand. The rule of magistrates was excluded by the distinc- 
tion of Church and Commonwealth as two separate, if interde- 
pendent spheres of authority. The rule of bishops was dismissed 
by claiming on biblical authority the parity of both congregations 
and pastors. 

When it is recalled that the presbyterian polity further prescribed in 
place of the ecclesiastical rule of magistrates or bishops the federation 
of individual congregations in a graduated series of representative 
courts composed of ministers and elders from the local churches, all 
the way from the local classis or regional presbytery through the 
provincial synods to nationally and, ideally, universal assemblies — one 
can begin to grasp how revolutionary such a polity would have been 
for Elizabethan English life. Hooker begins his refutation of lay elders 
with a rhetorical reference to "the tyme of silence which both partes 
have taken to breath" after a sharp and bitter conflict as a time to 
listen more calmly to reason concerning the weightiest and last re- 
maining subjects to be taken up in the last three books. He aligns 
himself with those apologists of the establishment who have argued 
that the whole platform of church discipline proposed by his oppo- 
nents is intended "to wrest the key of spirituall authoritie [or jurisdic- 
tion] out of the hands of former governors" [that is, bishops and the 
Prince], and to place this authority in the hands of local parish pastors. 
In order to assure the success of this revolution against established 
jurisdiction, Hooker insinuates that the disciplinarian pastors have even 
been willing to compromise their own authority by "pretending" that 
the people (in this case, lay elders with no "habilitie" or just claim) are 

li ,,38 

necessane actors. 
Hooker then distinguishes two kinds of spiritual or ecclesiastical 

36 E.P.M., pp. 105-106; also, pp. 298-299. 

For an account of the historical situation referred to in chap. 1.1—2 (3:2.1—3.8), 
see above, Introduction to The Preface, pp. 22—37, and nn to 3:2.1—21 and 133.27; 
see also Collinson, E.P.M., p. 431. 

38 A similar argument is made in Pref. 3.5-12 and 2.4 (1:15.6-18.32 and 6.31-7.20). 


Book VI 

power: that of order and that of jurisdiction (2.1—2; 3:4.7—6.4). It is by 
the power of order that the threefold ministry of bishops, priests, and 
deacons is consecrated — set aside from the laity — by receiving special 
gifts of the Holy Spirit in ordination for the purpose of performing 
divine duties in the church (discussed previously in V.76.1— 78.12; 
2:413.20—447.26). The power of jurisdiction includes both the role of 
priests as judges in the administration of penitential discipline and the 
juridical power to dictate law and administer it through the ecclesiasti- 
cal courts. 

It is helpful to recall that the term "jurisdiction" is ambiguous and, 
since the origin of the church, has caused confusion and controversy. 
The legal connotation of the term is evident: jurisdiction is the power 
to dictate law and to enforce it. The word therefore designates the 
administrative and juridical organization of the church, including the 
ecclesiastical courts which interpret and apply the canon law. But 
jurisdiction also designates something else, for the church is a govern- 
ment of souls as well as of physical bodies. Hence, jurisdiction in the 
church is also — indeed, primarily — a spiritual power, as Hooker 
himself observes in chapter 2.2 (3:5.28-32). In the early church, where 
confession and ecclesiastical discipline were almost exclusively public, 
there was no distinction between the administration of penance 
(hearing confessions, judging proper works of satisfaction, imposing 
excommunication in cases of obstinacy, and declaring absolution) and 
the judicial power publicly administered by the bishops. Bishops, not 

Compare Hooker's Autograph Notes, 3:466.16—469.13. On the distinction 
between spiritual jurisdiction as either "ordinary" (that is, pertaining only to ordained 
clergy) or "delegated" (that is, assigned by the bishops to their delegated representa- 
tives, who may be laymen), see W. J. Sparrow Simpson, "Jurisdiction in Hearing 
Confessions," in The Theory and Practice of Penance by Priests of the Anglican Communion, 
ed. Hubert S. Box (London, 1935), p. 48. 

"The word jurisdictio itself acquired an ever broader connotation in medieval 
canonistic works until in the first half of the thirteenth century it was being used in 
the general sense it came to have in Canon Law — potestas regiminis quae ex divina 
inslitutione est in ecclesia"; see Brian Tierney, Foundations of Conciliar Theory: The 
Contribution of the Medieval Canonists from Gratian to the Great Schism (Cambridge: The 
University Press, 1955; rpr. 1968), p. 33n; compare Hooker's definitions in chap. 2.2 
(3:5.29-32) and Autograph Notes (3:466.17-21). 



presbyters, administered discipline, and they dealt only with what were 
regarded as the occasional more serious sins. The only acceptable 
"satisfaction" was a period of separation from communion, and abso- 
lution followed that period rather than preceding the performance of 
"satisfaction." There was, however, a progressive tendency in later 
centuries to separate the public and the private areas of ecclesiastical 
discipline. In the western church, the gradual assumption by presbyters 
of episcopal ministries that had formerly been only occasionally dele- 
gated to them, together with developments of the Irish penitentials, 
led to private confession and immediate absolution with satisfaction 
following. These developments, increasingly regulated by canon law, 
prepared the way for the distinction that was made during the twelfth 
century between the power of order and the power of jurisdiction, 
an important theological distinction first made by Alexander of Hales 
during the thirteenth century in the context of interpreting the mean- 
ing of the power of the keys given by Christ to his church. Since 

41 F. Donald Logan has described this development in the discrimination of 
different kinds of ecclesiastical discipline as follows: 

From the twelfth century public reconciliation came to be distinguished from 
absolution from sin. The full reconciliation of an excommunicate required 
absolution from excommunication in the external forum as an act of jurisdic- 
tion, which could be performed even by a layman, and absolution from sin in 
the forum of the sacrament of penance as an act of order and jurisdiction, 
which could be performed only by a priest. The two absolutions became joined 
on the rare occasion when the solemn form of absolution was used; conceivably 
a priest who was absolving a person from the sentence in the internal forum 
might have absolved him from the sin publicly at the same time. Even so, the 
two absolutions were formally distinct, having different objects and being 
performed by virtue of different authorities. 

See Excommunication and the Secular Arm in Medieval England: A Study in Legal Procedure 
from the Thirteenth to the Sixteenth Century (Toronto: Pontifical Institute of Mediaeval 
Studies, 1968), p. 138. 

42 Summa theologica, 4a.20.8.1; and 4a.22.1.4; (Venice, 1525), 4:338 and 439. On 
the medieval development of the distinction between the internal penitential forum 
and the external canonical forum, see Francois Russo, "Penitence et excommunica- 
tion: Etude historique sur les rapports entre la theologie et le droit canon dans le 
domaine penitentiel du IXe au XHIe Siecle," Recherches de Science Religieuse, 33 


Book VI 

this latter distinction is so crucial to the overall structure of the whole 
of Book VI, including chapters 3—6 of the 1648 version, as well as to 
the original missing draft and to the Autograph Notes, it is important 
to see it as explicated by Thomas Aquinas: 

The term "key" is used in a twofold way. One extends itself 
immediately to heaven by removing the impediments of entrance 
into heaven through the remission of sin. This is called the key of 
order, and priests alone possess this because only they are ordered 
by the people in these things that have to do directly with God. 
The other key does not directly extend itself to heaven but 
indirectly to the church militant through which one goes to 
heaven. By this key one is excluded or admitted to the society of 
the church militant through excommunication and absolution. It 
is called the key of jurisdiction in the forum of causes. Therefore, 
those who are not priests can have this key, such as archdeacons, 
delegates, and anyone else who can excommunicate. But this 
second is not properly called a key of heaven but rather a disposi- 

. 43 

tion to it. 

In that part of the medieval tradition represented by Giles of Rome 
and Augustinus Triumphus, all ecclesiastical jurisdiction is seen primar- 
ily as residing in the pope, through whom it is possessed by the 
bishops. Each bishop's jurisdiction is usually restricted to his diocese. 
On the one hand, with regard to the jurisdiction associated with the 
sacrament of penance, the bishop imparts to ordained priests the 
authority to hear confessions, impose works of satisfaction, and ab- 
solve. But not all ordained priests are delegated this authority, and the 
jurisdiction of those to whom it is delegated is usually restricted to a 
parish. On the other hand, with regard to the bishop's canonical 
authority in the external forum, the power of jurisdiction (including 
the imposition of excommunication and the lifting of excommunica- 
tion through absolution) may be delegated not only to archdeacons 
but to lay judges as well. During the sixteenth century, the Church of 

(1946): 257-279, 431-461. 

Sup. Sum., 19.3; see also 22.1 and 2. 



England adopted this medieval position as it was embodied in canon 
law, with two major exceptions: (1) that "all jurisdiction ecclesiasticall 
within this realme is now annexed to the Imperiall Crown" rather 
than to the pope, and (2) that penance is not a sacrament, although 
its administration remains properly sacerdotal. The bishops have their 
sacerdotal power of order (including the power of imposing excom- 
munication as a spiritual punishment upon obstinate sinners and 
declaring absolution from sins) by standing in that line of spiritual 
authority that reaches back through their predecessors to the apostles 
and ultimately to Christ himself. This is part of the bishop's spiritual 
authority, the power of order, handed down to priests in their ordina- 
tion. But the prince's overall authority as "head" or "supreme govern- 
or" of the church is recognized insofar as the appointments of the 
bishops must be made or approved by the crown and the final au- 
thority for the judgments of all courts, ecclesiastical as well as secular, 
lies with the crown (see Lawes, VI 1 1. 8). 

Although the supreme power of all jurisdiction, both spiritual and 
civil, resides in the prince, the crown by custom and law delegates that 
part of its jurisdiction over spiritual matters to the bishops, who in 
turn further delegate their authority in the external forum to the 
ecclesiastical courts and the judges (some of whom may be laypersons) 
who preside over them. 

What Hooker did in the original draft of Book VI was to give a 
general introduction to the nature of spiritual jurisdiction (probably 
very similar to that published in chapter 2 of the 1648 version), then 
to defend the established order, including a brief defense of the bish- 
ops' courts, and finally proceed to refute the disciplinarian office of lay 
elders at the level of the external canonical forum. He did this by 
identifying the disciplinarian consistories in the local churches (and, by 
extension, their regional presbyteries, provincial synods, and national 
assemblies) made up of their pastors and doctors and ruling lay elders, 
as spiritual courts that would replace the traditional ecclesiastical court 
system in England. Hooker's primary argument in this draft was not so 
much against the unordained status of lay elders as against their insuffi- 

44 1 Eliz. I, cap. 2, cited by Hooker in Autograph Notes, 3:468.19-20. 


Book VI 

cient knowledge and skill to determine ecclesiastical causes (see Auto- 
graph Notes, 3:471.17—18, 25—28). There is no evidence from the 
Cranmer-Sandys Notes that Hooker intended to add a preliminary 
section on spiritual jurisdiction at the level of the internal penitential 
forum. But, given the historical and theological precedents, along with 
Hooker's disposition toward systematic thought that is comprehensive 
but not exhaustive, he might well have become dissatisfied with his 
treatment of the subject of lay elders only at the level of the external 
canonical forum. He therefore decided not only to revise but to 
expand his earlier argument by demonstrating that such penitential acts 
as hearing confessions, suspending from the Lord's Supper for disci- 
plinary reasons, excommunicating obstinate sinners, deciding the 
nature of appropriate works of satisfaction, and judging the sincerity of 
repentance as a basis for declaring absolutions were all sacerdotal 
functions grounded in the power of order, from which all laity are 
properly excluded. Moreover, Hooker's introduction of repentance at 
the end of chapter 2 and at the beginning of chapter 3 of the 1648 
text is not just a bridge into the remaining part of chapter 3 and 
chapters 4-6; it is also related to the original lost draft of Book VI as 
well. By proposing to elucidate the entire subject of spiritual jurisdic- 
tion in terms of its "chiefest end," "poenitency" (2.2—3.1; 3:6.1—18), 
he is continuing to follow the same practical course laid out at the 
beginning of Book I (2.1; 1:58.22-32). Here too Hooker is indebted 
to Aristotle for his general doctrine of ends as causes and the more 
specific doctrine of the causal primacy of ends in practical matters. 
And, again as in Book I and in the introductory chapters (1—10) to 
Book V, he moves the debate (this time over lay elders and the 
ecclesiastical courts) back to the higher level of general principles. 

Penance: Like the term "jurisdiction," "penance" has an instructive 
history of interpretation. Jerome, following the older Latin Bible, 
translated the Greek ^leravoia by the Latin poenitentia, and the Greek 

Concerning the centrality of repentance in the Book of Common Prayer and 
the relationship of "repentance" to Hooker's concepts of "commonwealth" and 
"participation," identified by Booty as the philosophical key to Hooker's theology in 
Book V, see Introduction to Book V, pp. 200-202, above. 



verb jLieravoeiv by poenitere or agere poenitentiam. The Greek |iET&voia 
means "after-thought" and, by extension, "change of mind and pur- 
pose," which is the primary meaning in the Scriptures. But the Latin 
"poenitentia" came to include "painful works for the satisfaction of 
sins" that were therapeutic as well as punitive, and this new meaning 
was then read into the passages of the New Testament where it 
occurred. In the early English versions of the Bible, based as they 
were upon the Vulgate, "poenitentia" was generally translated "pen- 
ance." While the phrase "do penance" was abandoned by the Protes- 
tant Reformers as not truly representing the original Greek, the 
substantive "penance" lingered on until later times, and is still found 
in the Commination Service in the Book of Common Prayer and in 
Article 33 of the Thirty-Nine Articles. Hooker's repeated tendency to 
expound repentance in terms of a medical cure for a disease points to 
the primacy of the therapeutic over the punitive in his thinking about 

i 46 

the matter. 

The introduction of repentance as the major end of spiritual juris- 
diction may thus be construed as the foundation for all of the remain- 
ing parts of the 1648 version: the virtue and discipline of repentance 
(the balance of chap. 3), confession (chap. 4), satisfaction (chap. 5), 
and absolution — falsely identified by the schoolmen as an essential part 
(and for some of them the crucial factor) in their sacrament of penance 
(chap. 6). At the same time, repentance as the principal end of spiritu- 
al jurisdiction also governed the draft read by Cranmer and Sandys. 

2. Spiritual Jurisdiction: The Internal Penitential Forum. 

Chapters 3—6 of the 1648 version of Book VI are undoubtedly the 
"treatise on repentance" that was the crux of the dispute between 
Sandys and Andrewes (see p. 252 and n. 7, above). Insofar as the 
argument developed here is anti-Roman, it reflects Hooker's partici- 
pation in that moral revolution of English Reformation thought that 
began by attacking the Roman Catholic sacrament of penance. 

46 See chaps. 3.1, 4.1, and 4.5 (3:6.12-14, 15.6-16, and 23.5-20). 

Concerning the primary end of ecclesiastical courts and judges as curing the 
souls of men, see Autograph Notes, 3:477.20-21, 478.27-30, and 480.15-18. 

On the significance for the Church of England of the rejection of the sacrament 


Book VI 

Hooker was often concerned with Rome, as in his Discourse of 
Justification and throughout the Lawes. The whole of Book IV is 
devoted to the refutation of the argument "that our forme of 
Church-politie is corrupted with popish orders rites and ceremonies banished out 
of certaine reformed Churches whose example therein we ought to have fol- 
lowed" (1:271.2-7). Therefore, even though Book VI was primarily 
directed against the disciplinarian office of lay elders, it was strategical- 
ly necessary for Hooker to set off his position from the teaching and 
practice of Rome with regard to the nature of penance and priestly 
absolution. This was especially important in a situation where his 
anti-Genevan polemic led him to argue that the exercise of penitential 
discipline in the church belongs to the ordinary power of spiritual 
jurisdiction and is thus the exclusive prerogative of the ordained minis- 

. 49 


The accusation of "popery" was common in all of the disciplinarian 
attacks on the established church. Hooker himself had been so ac- 
cused, both by Walter Travers during the controversy at the Temple 
in 1 585-1 586, 50 and by the author(s) of A Christian Letter (4:64.25- 
71.7, this edn.). Thus he needed to clarify his position with regard to 
Rome not only to refute his opponents but to appease his colleagues 
as well. Even in the missing draft, Cranmer advises him to delete a 
passage from his treatment of lay elders "because it favoureth the 
papistes in some pointes" (3:128.3—4). In the 1648 version Hooker 
wanted to assure his friends that his arguments for denying the exer- 
cise of ordinary ecclesiastical jurisdiction to the laity still allowed him 
to be critical of Rome. 

of private penance and the substitution of public confession and absolution for it, see 
John E. Booty, "The English Reformation: A Lively Faith and Sacramental Confes- 
sion," in The Anglican Moral Choice, ed. Paul Elmen (Wilton, Conn.: Morehouse- 
Barlow Co., 1983), pp. 15-32, 251-253; see also T. W. Drury, Confession and 
Absolution: The Teaching of the Church of England, as Interpreted and Illustrated by the 
Writings of the Reformers of the Sixteenth Century (London, 1903), pp. xix-xx. 

Although denying that penance is a sacrament, Hooker agrees with the Council 
of Trent concerning the exclusive prerogative of the ordained ministry with regard to 
the exercise of penitential discipline within the church; see Canons and Decrees of the 
Council of Trent (1941), Fourteenth Session, chap. 6, pp. 95 and 370. 

50 See his Supplication (5:200.12-208.13) and Hooker's Answer (5:237.29-245.4). 

The relevance of Hooker's anti-Catholic "tract of confession" in the 1648 text 



Having specified in the heading of chapter 3 that "poenitence" is the 
chief end of spiritual jurisdiction and that the spiritual health and 
safety of human souls is the primary goal of repentance, Hooker 
points out that sin has both a personal and a public dimension: an 
offense first against God but against neighbor and community as well. 
He then distinguishes the "virtue" and the "discipline" of repentance. 
The first, the secret inward repentance of the heart, is the way that 
the sinner appeases an offended God and is thereby reconciled with 
Him; the second makes restitution to human beings who have been 
injured by the sins and satisfies the community of the faithful in the 
church. Hooker emphasizes the essential unity of the internal virtue 
and the external discipline in his explanation of why he has chosen to 
deal with them together in his subsequent discussion of confession and 
satisfaction (3.6; 3:13.17-28). 

At the beginning of chapter 3.5, Hooker divides a penitent's duty 
into (1) the aversion of the will from sin, (2) the submission of the self 
to God by supplication and prayer, and (3) the intent to lead a new 
life, as witnessed by present works of amendment. He relates this 
threefold division of a penitent's duty to the corresponding notion 
reflected in the Prayer of Confession in the Book of Common Prayer, 
where sin is affirmed to be an offence against God in "thought, word, 
and deed." He also relates this threefold division to the school- 
men's discussion of the major parts of the sacrament of penance: 
contrition, confession, and satisfaction. Hooker's treatment generally 
conforms to this division: the balance of chapter 3 is on contrition, 
chapter 4 is on confession, and chapter 5 and the last sections of 
chapter 6 are on satisfaction. Although Hooker does not indicate at 
this point that he intends to treat absolution, he does in fact do so in 
the long beginning sections of chapter 6, for two major reasons, both 
apropos of the subject of ordinary spiritual jurisdiction: (1) the medi- 

to the defense of the established ecclesiastical courts and the refutation of congrega- 
tional lay elders in the first and now missing draft (disputed by Keble) is argued by 
McGrade in "Repentance and Spiritual Power," pp. 163-176; Loyer, 1:63-78, 2:721- 
723; and Josef Koenen, Die Busslehre Richard Hookers: Der Versuch einer Anglikanischen 
Bussdisziplin (Freiburg, 1940). But see also n. 3, p. 250, above. 
52 B.C.P., 1559, p. 259. 


Book VI 

eval scholastics always dealt with the subject of priestly absolution in 
their discussion of the sacrament of penance, and (2) the disciplinarians 
assigned to lay elders, along with ordained ministers and doctors, the 
responsibility not only of disciplining by private admonition or ex- 
communication but also of "loosing" that spiritual punishment by 
declaring absolution as well. 

In approaching the subject of contrition, Hooker follows the central 
Reformation doctrine that all good works derive from God and not 
from human effort, teaching that the virtue of repentance in the 
human heart is the effect of divine grace. He also utilizes the termi- 
nology of Aristotle and the schoolmen (especially that of Aquinas) in 
speaking about the virtue of repentance as a "habit," that is, as a 
mental state acquired through constant repetition that eventually 
makes certain actions "natural." According to this viewpoint, divine 
grace implants in the soul that love of virtue which is otherwise 
acquired only by a repetition of virtuous actions. What Aristotle had 
spoken of as "acquired," Aquinas and the schoolmen taught could be 
"infused." Thus regarded, the theological virtues of faith, hope, and 
love, along with such other virtues as repentance and righteousness, 
are all regarded as "divinely infused habits." Again utilizing a distinc- 
tion found in Aquinas concerning "order" and "dignity," Hooker 
states that "the whole traine of vertues, which are implied in the 
name of Grace, bee infused att one instant" (3.2; 3:7.29-31). Yet in 
the logic of order deriving from the distinct operations of the virtues, 
one seems to arise from another. In tracing this sequence, Hooker 
argues that faith in God, along with belief in the resurrection and 
judgment of the dead, leads to what the medieval scholastics describe 
as "servile fear" (attritio). But for Hooker such fear cannot of itself 
move sinners to repentance, and overemphasis upon it may in fact 
cause the overscrupulous to despair of salvation and therefore to 

S.T., la2ae. 113.8; see also 3a.85.6. Compare Hooker, Justification, § 21 (5:129. 
2-130.12). For an account of how Hooker's intimately related doctrine of justification 
synthesizes Reformation and Roman Catholic teaching by means of this same 
Thomistic distinction between "order" and "dignity," see Lee W. Gibbs, "Richard 
Hooker's Via Media Doctrine of Justification," Harvard Theological Review, 74 (1981): 



become immobile. Hence, Hooker teaches that attrition itself presup- 
poses some perception of God's mercy and forgiving love, and that 
the divinely infused virtue of love as a desire of union with the 
merciful and forgiving God transforms it into "contrition" 
(contritio). 54 Along with the schoolmen, he conceives of contrition 
primarily as "that alteration, whereby the will which was before 
delighted with sinne, doth now abhorre and shunne nothing more" 
(3.5; 3:12.25-27), and secondarily as the accompanying filial sorrow 
for having offended the heavenly Father. 

Contrition is therefore for Hooker the beginning of repentance, 
and there is neither contrition nor repentance without divine forgive- 
ness. It is God's grace transforming servile fear into filial sorrow by 
means of a divinely infused desire for union with a merciful and 
forgiving God that effectively works contrition in the human heart. 
The discussion of contrition in chapter 3 leads him naturally into his 
consideration of confession in chapter 4 and satisfaction in chapter 5. 
These chapters deal with "discipline," that is, the external, ritualized side 
of repentance that was "instituted by Christ; practised by the Fathers: converted 
by the Schoolemen into a Sacrament" (chap. 4, heading; 3:14.1-3). 

Hooker's introduction to chapter 4 (3:14.8-15.6) is of immense 
importance not only for its refutation of the Roman teaching that 
penance is a sacrament but also for his anti-Genevan polemic against 
the office of lay elders. The penitential tasks of pastoral guidance and 
correction to which he here addresses himself are the same as those for 

54 Hooker's practical pastoral concern for the care of potentially overscrupulous 
souls is a unifying thread throughout his work. It manifested itself in his analysis of 
"assurance" and "certaintie" in Certaintie and Justification and in his recurrent use in 
Book VI of medical metaphors of curing and healing when dealing with contrition 
and repentance in preference to those juridical ones derived from the law courts; see 
above, Introduction to Book V, pp. 200-202; see also John E. Booty, "Contrition in 
Anglican Spirituality: Hooker, Donne, and Herbert," Anglican Spirituality, ed. William 
J. Wolf (Wilton, Conn.: Morehouse-Barlow, 1982), pp. 25-48, and McGrade, 
"Repentance and Spiritual Power," pp. 170-171. 

55 In the context of his discussion of absolution, Hooker takes the schoolmen to 
task for their distinction between attrition or servile fear as a partly meritorious work 
that is transformed by means of the sacrament of penance into fully meritorious 
contrition; see chap. 6.13 (3:93.18-95.4). 


Book VI 

which his disciplinarian opponents proposed the participation of lay 
elders. Hooker opens this section with the citation of the key proof- 
texts from Matthew 16:19 concerning the keys of the kingdom, from 
Matthew 18:17 concerning the saying of Jesus, "Tel it unto the 
Church," and from John 20:23, "Whosoevers sinnes ye remit, they are 
remitted unto them: and whosoevers sinnes ye reteine, they are 
reteined." These texts have a long history of interpretation and were 
among those most often cited by the disciplinarians in support of lay 
elders (see above, p. 263 and n. 25). Hooker preempts them as war- 
rants for ecclesiastical courts and consistories (3:14.18—23), clearly 
restricting their meaning to the ordinary power of spiritual jurisdiction, 
that is, to "the guides and Prelates in Gods Church, first his Apostles, 
and afterwards others following them successively," who "did both use 
and uphold that discipline, the end whereof is to heale mens con- 
sciences, to cure theyr sinnes, to reclayme offendors from iniquitie, 
and to make them by repentance just" (3:15.7—11). He specifies even 
further how the exercise of this power is ruled by its chief end of 

Neyther hath it of ancient tyme for any other respect beene 
accustomed, to bind by Ecclesiasticall censures, to retayne soe 
bound, till tokens of manifest repentance appeared, and upon 
apparent repentance to release, saving only because this was 
received, as a most expedient method, for the cure of sinne. 

Hooker also mentions in this context both of the major sanctions or 
punishments associated with the exercise of ecclesiastical discipline, 
namely, the exclusion from participation in the "holy mysteries of 
Christ" (3:15.20—22), traditionally known as minor excommunication, 
and full ejection out of the church with the deprivation of all rights 

For the importance of penitential preparation and discipline with regard to the 
administration of the Eucharist, see John E. Booty, "Preparation for the Lord's Supper 
in Elizabethan England," Anglican Theological Review, 49 (1967): 131-148; Booty 
observes that Elizabethan ecclesiastics "aroused the ire of the Puritans by relying for 
discipline upon exhortation, visitations, and ecclesiastical courts, rather than providing 
for the discipline of communicants from within the local congregation" (p. 148). 



and privileges of Christians (3:14.23—27), traditionally known as major 
excommunication. His citation of the case where the incestuous Corin- 
thian was excommunicated and then absolved (1 Cor. 5:3 and 2 Cor. 
2:6) touched upon another hotly disputed subject. Cartwright and his 
supporters contended on behalf of lay elders that the Corinthian 
church both excommunicated and absolved the offender, while Whit- 
gift just as strenuously argued that the Apostle Paul alone exercised this 
authority with the approval of the church in Corinth. 

Confession: At the beginning of section 2, Hooker introduces for the 
first time "confession" as the general subject of chapter 4. He states 
that the discipline for reforming "open transgressors" in the early 
church included "offices of open penitence especially confession, 
whereby they declared their owne crimes in the hearing of the whole 
Church" (3:15.17—20). He gives a historical explanation for the 
increasing disfavor into which this ancient custom of public discipline 
fell: when the persecutions of the early church ceased, the numbers of 
church members rapidly increased, princes became Christian, evils 
encouraged by the new peace and security broke forth, and "publique 
confessions became dangerous and prejudiciall to the safety of well 
minded men, and in divers respects advantagibus to the ennemies of 
Gods Church" (3:16.23—25). Hooker then introduces the long anti- 
Roman section that disputes the elevation of private auricular confes- 
sion to the status of a sacrament (§§ 3-13; 3:16.28-45.16). He begins by 
pointing out several contradictions implicit in the teachings of the 
various schoolmen, including the classification of the inward virtue of 
contrition as one of the three parts of the external discipline of penance. 
He also objects to the omission of absolution, which some medieval 
scholastics (such as Aquinas and the majority at the Council of Trent) 
make an essential part of the sacrament. But his major argument 

For surveys of the historical use of confession and penance in the history of the 
church, see Frank E. Biggart, "The Presentation of the Sacrament of Penance," in The 
Theory and Practice of Penance by Priests of the Anglican Communion, ed. Hubert S. Box 
and Kenneth E. Kirk (London, 1935), pp. 15-^6. See also Thomas N. Tender, Sin 
and Confession on the Eve of the Reformation (Princeton: The University Press, 1977), 
and Oscar D. Watkins, A History of Penance, 2 vols. (London, 1920). 

58 The Council of Trent endorsed both the Thomist doctrine that the imperfect 


Book VI 

throughout this section is that antiquity is on the side of those who 
maintain that confession is public as well as private, and that it is not 
a sacrament. As in the disputations with the disciplinarians, the argu- 
ment focuses upon the testimony of Scripture (both Old and New 
Testaments) and the church Fathers. 

Hooker's treatment of the crucial Old Testament texts dealing with 
confession (§ 4; 3:20.5—22.9) is derivative. He bases his discussion of 
"Jewish confession," which entails exegesis of passages from Numbers, 
Leviticus, and Joshua, upon commentary written on the Mishnah and 
Talmud by Moses Maimonides, concluding that the Jews practiced 
"special confession" to God and public confession before many but 
denying that they knew anything of private auricular confession. 

The New Testament texts Hooker discusses are also derivative. He 
cites passages from Matthew, Mark, Acts, James, and 1 John that had 
been quoted by various schoolmen to substantiate their claim that the 
custom of private auricular confession had New Testament precedent 
(§ 5; 3:22.10-24.20). The bulk of the argument with the schoolmen 
over confession, however, has to do with the witness of the church 
Fathers. Considering as moot passages from Tertullian, Cyprian, Am- 
brose, Augustine, Origen, Gregory of Nyssa, Pseudo-Eusebius Emise- 
nus, and numerous others, along with canons from the Council of 
Nicaea, he concludes: 

I dare boldly affirme, that for many hundred yeares after Christ, 
the Fathers held noe such opinion, they did not gather by our 
Saviours words any such necessitie of seeking the Priests absolu- 
tion from sinne, by secret, and (as they now terme it:) sacramen- 

fear of punishment (attritio) is transformed through the sacrament of penance into 
perfect contrition, and also that the confession of sins to a priest is the "matter" while 
the words of the priest, "I absolve you," are the form of the sacrament of penance. 
The most significant contribution of Aquinas to the medieval discussion of penance 
was his insistence that contrition does not produce forgiveness apart from the sacra- 
mental absolution of the priest; see the further discussion of Aquinas's view of the 
necessary role of the priest's absolution below, pp. 291-292. In a way very similar to 
Hooker, Calvin attacks these same basic "contradictions" within the teachings of the 
medieval schoolmen concerning the sacrament of penance; see Institutes, 3.4.1-39 and 



tall Confession. Publique Confession they thought necessary by 
way of discipline, not private Confession as in the Nature of a 
Sacrament necessary. (§ 6; 3:24.22—28; compare § 13; 3:45.14—16) 

The brief but concentrated passage (§§ 8-12; 3:33.18—42.9) where 
Hooker deals with the early church historians is also a part of his anti- 
Roman polemic. Hooker's argument with his scholastic opponents 
(especially Baronius and Bellarmine) focuses upon the practice of 
penance in the Greek church and, more specifically, with a decision of 
Nectarius, bishop of Constantinople, concerning the abolition of the 
office of a penitentiary "presbyter." Against the interpretation of 
Baronius, Hooker concludes that "Nectarius did truely abrogate Con- 
fession in such sort as the Ecclesiasticall historie hath reported," argu- 
ing against both Baronius and Bellarmine that "it was not publick 
Confession only [but also private] which Nectarius did abolish" (§11; 

Hooker sets forth his own position with regard to confession in the 
concluding sections of chapter 4 (§§ 14-16; 3:45.17-52.18). He ac- 
knowledges that confession, sometimes to God alone, at other times to 
man as well, is a principal duty for penitents. Moreover, confession to 
man can be both public or private, and Hooker points out that Calvin 
himself, along with other "learneder sorte of Divines" from the 
Reformed traditions, permits private confession but only after it has 
been "cleered from all errours." 

Characteristically, Hooker emphasizes that common public acknowl- 
edgment of sins is an essential part of the corporate worship of the 
church, along with the public declaration of absolution by the officiating 
minister. With regard to private confession, he cites with approval the 
comment of his former patron, John Jewel: "As for private Confession, 
abuses and errors sett apart, wee condemne it not, but leave it att libertie" (3: 
4S.h). He closes with a declaration of practice of the church as estab- 
lished in England: 

And for private Confession, and absolution, it standeth thus with 
us. The Ministers power to absolve is publickly taught and 
professed, the Church not denyed to have authoritie eyther of 
abridging, or enlarging the use and exercise of that power; upon 
the people noe such necessity imposed of opening their trans- 


Book VI 

gressions unto men, as if remission of sinnes otherwyse were 
impossible, neyther any such opinion had of the thing itselfe, as 
though it were eyther unlawfull, or unprofitable, saving only for 
these inconveniences, which the world hath by experience ob- 
served in it heretofore: and in regard thereof the Church of 
England hitherto hath thought it the safer way, to referre mens 
hidden crimes unto God and themselves only, howbeit not 
without speciall caution, for the admonition of such as come to 
the holy Sacrament, and for the comfort of such as are readie to 
depart the World. (§ 15; 3:47.27-48.8) 

Satisfaction: Chapter 5 deals with satisfaction as the third part of 
penance. In a brief introduction (§ 1; 3:52.20—53.23), Hooker refers to 
"such mysteries as the Papacie hath found" concerning this doctrine 
and claims the authority of the church Fathers as support for his 
position rather than that of his Roman opponents. He then advances 
the basic idea around which he organizes the following argument: 
"Satisfaction is a worcke which Justice requireth to be done for con- 
tentment of persons injuried" (§ 2; 3:53.24—25). According to Hook- 
er, satisfaction has a double aspect, for sin is not simply an offence 
against God or against man; it is both. Every sin demands that satisfac- 
tion be made to God; but every sin also requires that satisfaction be 
made either to the injured party or to the church whose spiritual life 
suffers through the sins of her members. Sections 2-6, therefore, take 
up satisfaction in relation to the offended God. There Hooker sets 
forth an Anselmian doctrine of the atonement as the divine basis for 


the human satisfaction of God. Sin against the infinite God is an 
infinite wrong. Human beings can offer no satisfaction for sin, yet 
justice demands that God be satisfied. God, therefore, out of his un- 
speakable love, ordained on human behalf a Mediator whose sacrificial 
death accomplished what for any other would have been impossible. 
The Incarnation, culminating in the death of the God-man, has made 

For a summary of the objective Latin or satisfaction theory of the atonement as 
set forth by Anselm of Canterbury in Cur Deus Homo?, see Gustav Aulen, Christus 
Victor; A Historical Study of the Three Main Types of the Atonement, trans. A. G. Herbert 
(London: S.P.C.K., 1961), pp. 100-109. 



forgiveness not only possible but just. The satisfaction which Christ 
has accomplished is appropriated through the divinely infused virtue of 
faith (which is simultaneously infused with the other virtues of love, 
hope, repentance, and righteousness), thereby making imperfect 
human works of repentance satisfactory to God. 

Under the rubric of satisfaction to God, Hooker also deals with the 
temporal punishments which follow sin even after divine pardon. He 
argues that divine forgiveness remits all punishments for sin, whether 
eternal or temporal. But this truth does not prohibit God from inflict- 
ing additional chastisement, and he refers to the people of Israel and to 
Moses, Miriam, and David as illustrations of those who were further 
punished temporally, "eyther for their owne more sound amendment, 
or for example unto others in this present world" (§ 5; 3:56.24-57.2). 
Thus, Hooker's position is that the virtue of repentance, quite apart 
from any desire for absolution from a priest, is sufficient to procure 
divine forgiveness; nevertheless, works of satisfaction as part of the 
discipline of repentance are not to be despised, for they strike at sin's 
future growth by attacking its roots. 

Hooker turns to the satisfaction of human beings in sections 7 and 
8: the first deals with the satisfaction of particular men, the second 
with satisfaction of the church. He observes first that experience 
demonstrates repentance to be of no effect in a person's life unless 
particular men be satisfied. Therefore, restitution to other men must 
accompany the penitent's confession that has been made to God. 
Hooker cites as guidelines for Christians the strict laws of the Jews 
both in Leviticus and Numbers, as well as the minute directions of the 
rabbinical schools. With regard to satisfaction of the church, Hooker 
notes that ancient discipline required lengthened periods of penitence 
and also ordered all the various classes of penitents to secure full proof 
of amendment and satisfaction. Condemnation of the false practice of 
Rome in granting absolution before sufficient repentance has been 
demonstrated closes chapter 5. 

Absolution: Hooker thus returns at the end of chapter 5 to the topic 
announced at its beginning by considering "the strange preposterous 
course" taken by "the inventors of Sacramentall satisfaction" (§ 9; 
3:67.12-14). Along with the mainstream of the Protestant Reforma- 
tion, Hooker attacks the Roman doctrine of purgatory as a place 


Book VI 

where, after death, divinely pardoned sinners still suffer temporal 
punishment equal to the nature of their crimes. He also attacks the 
related doctrine concerning the treasury of meritorious works built up 
by the supererogatory works of saintly Christians and dispensed by the 
church. He anticipates his discussion of absolution in chapter 6 by 
declaring that there is an analogy between the Roman doctrines 
concerning the papal power to pardon temporal pains of souls in 
purgatory and the priestly power that is necessary for the remission of 
eternal death, concluding that "by this posterne gate, commeth in the 
whole Mart of Papall indulgences." 

The introduction of the long discussion of absolution at the begin- 
ning of chapter 6 appears in some ways to be a break in the logical 
progression of the argument, and there are both internal and external 
grounds for regarding it as an insertion at a later stage of composi- 
tion. Internally, Hooker has not stated before that he intends to 
deal extensively with the topic of absolution. On the contrary, he 
omits absolution among the major parts of the so-called "sacrament of 
penance" (3.5, 6; 3:12.8-17, 13.11-28), even stating at the beginning 
of chapter 5 that "There resteth now Satisfaction only to be consid- 
ered" (§ 1; 3:52.20). Externally, there is a sizable blank space on the 
page before the unexpected and unannounced topic " Of Absolution of 
pcenitents" is introduced, and there are several incoherencies in this 
section, the most obvious of them being the repetition of the passage 
(partially rewritten) concerning "this posterne gate . . . of Papall indul- 

Nevertheless, it was vital that Hooker take up the issue of absolu- 
tion to resolve issues raised by both wings of his opposition. On the 
one hand, the disciplinarians ceded the power of absolution (including 
minor and major excommunication) to lay elders acting in concert 
with ordained ministers. On the other, although most medieval 
schoolmen spoke of contrition, confession, and satisfaction as the three 
major parts of the sacrament of penance, they invariably included in 

60 Chap. 5.9; 3:68.28-69.4; compare chap. 6.7 (3:80.14-29) and Justification, § 5 

For internal evidence, see McGrade, "Repentance and Spiritual Power," pp. 
172—174; for external evidence, see 3:xxxv, xxxvii— xxxix. 



their writings long discussions concerning the nature and role of 
absolution. Some of them made absolution by the priest the essence of 
the sacrament itself. 

Hooker begins his treatment by setting forth his own position on 
the role of ordained ministers with regard to the forgiveness of sins 
and the discipline of the church. He locates the origin of the jurisdic- 
tional authority to absolve in Christ's giving the power of the keys to 
his apostles and derivatively to the ministers of his Word. In light 
of his controversy with the disciplinarians over lay elders, both here 
and in the missing manuscript of Book VI, Hooker uses juridical 
language to describe this authority entailed in the power of order: 

It is true that our Saviour by those words: whose sinnes yee retnitt 
they are remitted, did ordaine Judges over sinfull soules, give them 
authoritie to absolve from sinne, and promisse to ratifye in heav- 
en whatsoever they should doe on earth in execution of this their 
office.... (6.3; 3:71.25-28) 

He immediately places two restrictions upon this "pcenitentiall juris- 
diction" of priests: first, that its practice proceed in due order; second, 
that it not extend itself beyond its due bounds of remitting sin, as if 
"noe sinne should be pardonable in man without it" (3:72.5—11). 

Further important juridical distinctions occur in section 5, where 
Hooker states that the sincerity of repentance is to be judged by the 
consciences of individuals, while "judges" have been appointed by 
God to evaluate the "fitt and convenient offices" for expressing that 
repentance. Ministerial absolution only declares that the person is free 
from the guilt of sin; but ministers are endowed with authority to 

The teaching of Lancelot Andrewes on absolution and the power of reconcili- 
ation given to priests as part of their power of order coincides with Hooker's at this 
point; see "A Sermon Preached at Whitehall, upon the Sunday after Easter, Being the 
Thirtieth of March, A.D. MDC," The Works of Lancelot Andrewes, ed. J. Bliss (Oxford, 
1854), 5:94—95. Andre wes's main point in this sermon is that God has instituted 
diverse acts for the remission of sins, and that all of these acts require the person of 
the minister and cannot be performed without him. Compare Hooker's interpretation 
of the clergy's authority in declaring absolution in terms of the power of order in 
V.77.1 and 5-7. 


Book VI 

permit or refuse access to "sacred and divine mysteries" until those 
judged unworthy are deemed by outward signs to have sincerely repent- 
ed. Another important distinction overlaps with this discussion of 
"minor excommunication." Hooker distinguishes between the way 
jurisdictional authority in the church is exercised over voluntary 
penitents and its exercise on those who have to be brought to amend- 
ment by ecclesiastical censure. With regard to the first, Hooker reiter- 
ates that the minister's power to bind or loose is based upon judgment 
of external signs of repentance and is only declaratory of what God has 
done. But with regard to the spiritual jurisdiction that constrains 
individuals to amend their lives, the minister has a genuine power of 
jurisdiction that the church has invested in his office. 

Having outlined his own reformed position on the nature of absolu- 
tion and the role of the ordained clergy therein, Hooker launches his 
attack upon the two major errors of Rome. The first concerns the 
view that sacraments in general (and the sacrament of penance in 
particular) contain and confer grace (§§ 9—11); the second concerns the 
exaggeration of the role and authority of the priest in the declaration 
of absolution (§§ 12-14). 

Hooker argues that some of the schoolmen and the mainstream of 
the Roman tradition departed from the position of Peter Lombard, 
who held that absolution by the priest is merely declarative, when they 
made the private discipline of "pcenitencie" to be a sacrament and 
absolution the external sign of this sacrament. To the Thomistic doc- 
trine that the external signs of a sacrament contain and convey the 
grace they symbolize (appropriated by the Councils of Florence and 
Trent and by Cardinals Bellarmine and Allen), he opposes the teaching 
of Bonaventure that the outward signs of the sacraments do not have 
in themselves either a natural efficacy toward grace or any supernatu- 
rally infused virtue in them (appropriated by Scotus, Occam, Alexan- 
der of Hales, and Pierre d'Ailly). Hooker identifies himself with 
Bonaventure's position, arguing that the sacraments are efficacious 
because God himself, faithful to his divine promise, joins his Holy 
Spirit to the external signs to make them so. 

Obligatory confession to a priest at least once a year, as required by 
the Fourth Lateran Council (1215), reinforced by the teaching of 
Aquinas and the Councils of Florence (1439) and Trent (1545—1563) 



concerning the efficacy of the external signs of the sacraments, exalted 
the role of the priest in declaring absolution. Thomas Tender has 
summarized the major theological alternatives that emerged in the 
practical literature on forgiveness at the end of the middle ages: 

Theologians developed three main ways to explain what the 
priest does, and they represented three different estimates of his 
power. Those who continued in the [contritionist] tradition of 
Peter Lombard gave him very little to do. Those who followed 
Aquinas tried to combine the contrition of the penitent and the 
action of the priest in a causal unity that produced grace, and 
thus made the priest logically indispensable. Those who followed 
Duns Scotus gave the priest the greatest importance, and, starting 
from the indispensability established by Aquinas, they stressed the 
priest's role to such an extent that some of them could speak of 
"the Sacrament of Absolution." 

Thus, in his view of auricular confession, as he had in his view of the 
declaratory nature of priestly absolution, Hooker rejects the Thomist 
and Scotist alternatives, identifying with the contritionist tradition of 
Lombard and Bonaventure. 

Satisfaction (continued): The Inward Dimension: Having dealt with 
what he considers the major errors of the Roman teaching about 
absolution, Hooker resumes in the final sections of chapter 6 (§§ 15— 
17) what could be considered a continuation of his interrupted treat- 
ment of satisfaction at the end of chapter 5, namely, the human prob- 
lem of satisfying one's own individual conscience. But the argument 
in these concluding paragraphs is probably better understood as a 
continuation of the part that the church plays through the declaration 
of pardon by its ministers and the resulting reassurance of the con- 
sciences of those individuals who have truly repented. (The whole of 
Certaintie addresses the issue of reassuring the scrupulous conscience; 
see also Justification, 5:125.12—126.6.) The juridical language and the 
general importance of the following passage, not only for the anti- 

Sin and Confession on the Eve of the Reformation, pp. 22-23. 


Book VI 

Roman but also for the anti-Genevan thrust of all of Book VI, war- 
rant its full quotation here: 

To remission of sinnes, there are twoe things necessarie, Grace 
as the only cause which taketh away iniquitie, and Repentance as 
a dutie or condition required in us. To make repentance such as 
it should be, what doth God demand butt inward synceritie, 
joyned with fitt and convenient offices for that purpos: the one 
referred wholy to our owne consciences, the other best discernd 
by them whome God hath appointed Judges in this Court. Soe 
that having first the promisses of God for pardon generally unto 
all offendors pcenitent, and particularly for our owne unfayned 
meaning, the unfallible testimonie of a good conscience; the 
sentence of Gods appointed officer and Vicegerent, to approove 
with unpartiall judgement, the qualitie of that wee have done; 
and as from his Tribunall in that respect, to assoyle us of any 
crime, I see noe cause, butt that by the rules of our faith and 
religion, wee may rest ourselves very well assured touching Gods 
most mercifull pardon and grace, whoe especially for the strength- 
ning of weake, timerous and fearefull mindes, hath soe farre in- 
dued his Church with power to absolve sinners. (6.5; 3:74.10—27) 

In section 15, Hooker resumes this discussion of the comforting role 
of the priest in his role of declaring the assurance of divine forgiveness 
to those disturbed by an overscrupulous conscience. In section 16, he 
deals with those who are excessively fearful that the enormity of their 
crimes are so unforgivable that their repentance will do them no good; 
and in section 17 he considers those who continually fear that defects 
in their own repentance will make them undeserving of the divine 
mercy. Hooker then concludes his argument on spiritual jurisdiction 
in the inner penitential forum: 

it hath therefore pleased Almightie God in tender commiseration 
over these imbecillities of men, to ordeine for their spirituall and 
ghostly comfort, consecrated persons, which by sentence of 
power and authoritie given from above, may as it were out of his 
verie mouth ascertaine timorous and doubtfull minds in their 
owne particular, ease them of all their scrupulosities, leave them 
settled in peace and satisfyed touching the mercie of God towards 



them. To use the benefitt of his helpe for our better satisfaction 
in such cases, is soe naturall, that it can bee forbidden noe man: 
butt yet not soe necessarie, that all men should bee in case to 
neede it. (6.17; 3:102.3-13) 

3. Spiritual Jurisdiction: Hie External Canonical Forum 

Hooker seems to have decided to expand the original and now lost 
version of Book VI by adding the long essay on spiritual jurisdiction 
as penitential discipline, which, although not a sacrament, is still 
properly a sacerdotal function from which therefore lay elders are 
excluded. He would have retained the original version of Book VI as 
the second major part of his refutation of the disciplinarian office of 
lay elders. This part of the argument would have been developed in 
terms of the more restrictive sense of spiritual jurisdiction as the 
administrative and juridical organization of the church or, more 
specifically, as the organization of the ecclesiastical courts and the law 
which they elaborated and applied. The evidence from the Autograph 
Notes makes this clear. 

Ecclesiastical us. Civil Courts: The presbyterians held that the scriptur- 
al model for overseeing spiritual and moral discipline in the church 
was the congregational consistory, that is, an ecclesiastical court made 
up of the pastor and representative lay elders. Both Travers and Cart- 
wright speak of the consistories as "courts," and both draw secular 
analogies from the ancient Athenian court of the Areopagus and the 
Roman Senate. Following Calvin and in concert with other discipli- 
narians, they also emphasize the Jewish Court of Seventy, the Sanhe- 
drin, claimed as the origin and scriptural warrant for their office of lay 
elders. They rejected the ecclesiastical rule of magistrates, whether 
Christian or not, on the basis of the distinction between church and 
commonwealth as two separate, if interdependent, spheres of authori- 
ty. The rule of bishops was dismissed by claiming on biblical authority 
that pastors and congregations are equal. The rule of magistrates and 
bishops was replaced with a graduated series of representative bodies, 


Book VI 

rising from local consistories to presbyteries to synods to national and 
even international assemblies. 

At this point, Hooker's argument must be reconstructed on the basis 
of what can be inferred from the Cranmer-Sandys Notes on the lost 
original draft of Book VI and from the relevant portions of the Auto- 
graph Notes. Hooker apparently began the draft of Book VI, as he did 
the extant 1648 text, by distinguishing between the power of order 
and that of jurisdiction (fol. 1; 3:4.8-24). In the Autograph Notes, he 
defines jurisdiction as "power to commaund and judg according to 
law" and spiritual jurisdiction as "a power of commaunding and 
judging in spirituall affaires according to spirituall lawes" (3:466.17— 
19). Another passage stresses that the chief end of spiritual jurisdiction 
in the external canonical forum is the same as its exercise in the 
internal penitential forum, namely, to work repentance: "The end 
being to cure the faults of men, and the waie by justice, it behoveth 
the phisitian which is the judge to be therein as expedite as may stand 
with justice that the cure of every mans evell may be with speed 

The means of that jurisdiction was the ecclesiastical court system, 
and Hooker specifies the kinds of cases that legitimately fall under its 
jurisdiction, citing matrimonial cases as an example. This discussion, 

64 See pp. 271-272, above. 

Autograph Notes, 3:478.27-30; compare: "But ... by way of revenge an 
ecclesiasticall judg imposeth not any pecuniary mulct, for that his end is to cure the 
soul and not to empty the purse of thoffendour" (3:480.15—18). 

The law underwriting that jurisdiction, assumed and interpreted by the English 
ecclesiastical courts, was the Corpus juris canonici, first published as a single collection 
in printed editions from 1499 onwards. Although there was never an official or 
expurgated edition in England, this was the body of ecclesiastical law that obtained in 
post-Reformation England, after modifications were made (such as deleting passages 
having to do with such issues as the authority of the papacy and the organization of 
religious houses), brought about by English statute law (such as the Acts of Supremacy 
and Uniformity), subsequent canonical legislation, and other orders and injunctions of 
the monarch, convocations, and ecclesiastical commissions, as well as local custom; see 
The Canon Law of the Church of England: Being the Report of the Archbishops' Commission 
on Canon Law, together with Proposals for a Revised Body of Canons (London, 1947), pp. 
xi, 42; see also The Reformation of the Ecclesiastical Laws as Attempted in the Reigns of 
King Henry VIII, King Edward VI, and Queen Elizabeth (1850; rpr. Farnborough, 



evidently rudimentary in the lost draft, would have emerged as a major 
new section had Hooker followed the promptings of Cranmer and 
Sandys, who asked Hooker to clarify and justify the distinction 
between cases that are spiritual and judged by ecclesiastical courts, 
those which are temporal and judged by civil courts, and those which 
are "mixi" and may be tried in either tribunal. Hooker's response 
may be seen in the legal material gathered in his Autograph Notes 
(3:471.31—477.18). He repeatedly emphasized against his disciplinarian 
opponents that within their polity the spiritual sovereignty of every 
local congregation and the governing role of lay elders in those 
churches would undermine not only the spiritual jurisdiction of the 
ecclesiastical courts but ultimately the entire English court system 
(compare Pref. 8.2 and 2.4; 1:39.12-21 and 6.17-24). But he defended 
the traditional jurisdiction exercised by the ecclesiastical courts in 
England, especially in such "mixt" cases as marriage and divorce, 
legitimacy and bastardy, and particularly wills and testaments, over 
against encroachments by the civil courts and the common lawyers, of 
which Sandys was one. 

Hants.: Gregg, 1968); this work was initiated by a commission under the leadership 
of Thomas Cranmer, but was not published until 1571, and then in Latin; see STC 
6006. In addition to canon law, there were also canons derived from various provin- 
cial constitutions; by far the most definitive was Lyndewode's Provinciate (1432), a gloss 
and commentary on the provincial constitutions of the province of Canterbury, 
quoted seven times in the material pertaining to Book VI in the Autograph Notes. 

See Cranmer, 3:111, and Sandys, 3:130-133; also pp. 238—242, above, and 
313-315, below. 

The separation of the spiritual from the civil courts was one of the major 
changes introduced in England by the Norman Conquest. For the Ordinance of 
William I (c. 1070) that laid the basis for further development of independent 
ecclesiastical jurisdiction, see App. I of Felix Makower, The Constitutional History and 
Constitution of the Church of England (1895; rpr. New York: Burt Franklin, 1960), pp. 
465—466. For a full discussion of the kinds of cases that properly fall under the 
jurisdiction of the ecclesiastical courts by one of Hooker's contemporaries, see the 
General Preface and Part 1 of Richard Cosin's An Apologie: of and for Sundrie Proceed- 
ings by Jurisdiction Ecclesiastical (1591; 1593); see also the list of "Causae ecclesiasticae" 
in The Reformation of the Ecclesiastical Laws, pp. 206-207. 

For an account of these encroachments upon areas previously ceded to the 
ecclesiastical courts, and of the common lawyers' making common cause with the 


Book VI 

In justifying the separation between spiritual, temporal, and mixed 
cases, Hooker considers the qualifications of those who give judgment 
in the ecclesiastical courts, culminating in the subsection of the 
Autograph Notes entitled "Exceptions against layelders" (3:471.12— 
30). But there are other arguments to exclude lay ecclesiastical judges 
liberally scattered throughout the material before and after this section. 
He has already stated in his earlier section " Of jurisdiction," for exam- 
ple, that "They which have power to commaund and judg must have 
also authoritie to punish," and he quotes a statement from Justinian's 
Digest that avers that "There is no jurisdiction without a proportionate 
power of coercion" (3:466.20-21, 467.31-32 and n). 

Some of the arguments for the exclusion of lay elders presuppose 
the discussion presented in the 1648 text concerning spiritual jurisdic- 
tion in the internal penitential forum associated with the power of 
order. Examples include the statement that "none having ordinarie 
power in such sort to chastise soules but they unto whome the charge 
and care of soules is committed" (3:469.5—7), and that laymen are 
incompetent to "injoign penances, degrade ecclesiasticall persons and 
to putt them from theire order, suspend from communion which they 
cannot minister, and to excommunicate which cannot admitt" (3:471. 
19—24). But such laypersons, who were usually not common but civil 
lawyers with a degree from one of the universities in Roman civil law 
and who may have been but were not always skilled in the intricacies 
of canon law, were delegated authority by the bishops to serve as 
judges in the spiritual courts. Therefore, Hooker's ground for re- 

disciplinarians, esp. in attacking the practices of the High Commission and the use of 
the oath ex officio, see Ralph Houlbrooke, Church Courts and the People during the 
English Reformation, 1520-1570 (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1979), pp. 116, 
266-268; Roland G. Usher, The Rise and Fall of the High Commission (1913; rpr. 
Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1968), pp. 121-201; and R. H. Helmholz, Roman Canon 
Law in Reformation England (Cambridge: The University Press, 1990), pp. 20-27. 

Compare the sections on judges, their office, and their jurisdiction in The 
Reformation of the Ecclesiastical Laws, pp. 188-211. 

Some of the most vituperative attacks of the disciplinarians were directed 
against the chancellors and commissaries, usually laymen. Collinson states the presbyte- 
rian view of the role played by these ecclesiastical lay officials: 

Without congregational participation, spiritual government was ordinarily 



jecting the disciplinarian office of lay elders had to be different here. 
That is why he first argues throughout the section of the Autograph 
Notes ''Concerning those who give judgment" that lay elders have not 
been given the coercive authority by the prince or by the church (that 
is, by the bishops) to try cases or impose punishments, and secondly 
that they could not and would not have adequate knowledge or skill 
to apply the law in specific cases (3:469.15-470.7; 471.25-30). Even 
in the exceptional case of the prince, who has "a competencie of 
power both to uphold by waie of dependencie the Ordinarie jurisdic- 
tion wherewith law investeth ecclesiastical judges," the exercise of 
judgment in ecclesiastical cases and the imposition of the censures of 
the church are so difficult and inconvenient that he traditionally 
delegates this authority to ecclesiastical judges who have the requisite 
knowledge of the intricacies of canon law. 

Having distinguished spiritual from civil cases and designated the 
qualifications for ecclesiastical judges, Hooker was finally prepared to 
discuss "The forme and maner of proceding in ecclesiasticall causes" (3:477. 
20—481.23). The manner of proceeding in spiritual cases must concur 
with the end it proposes, and that end is to cure the faults of men. 
Under this heading Hooker defends the much criticized practice in the 
ecclesiastical courts of changing corporal penances to monetary fines. 
Although he defends the established system against his opponents, he 
acknowledges blatant abuses and calls for reform. 

In this same context, Hooker seeks to explain and justify the de- 
spised oath ex officio, a traditional procedure in courts established 

conducted at the diocesan and archdiaconal levels. . . . Pastoral care meant, in 
effect, the impersonal processes of the church courts, where the bishop was 
represented by officials who in the post-Reformation period were more often 
than not laymen, civil lawyers whose attitude can be described without preju- 
dice as professional rather than evangelical and pastoral. (E.P.M., pp. 37-38) 

On the break of canon-law ties with Rome in 1535 and 1536 and the consequent 
cessation of the teaching of canon law in English universities and the exercise of its 
functions by civil rather than canon lawyers, see R. J. Schoeck, "Canon Law in 
England on the Eve of the Reformation," Medieval Studies, 25 (1963): 125-147. 

3:468.21-469.2; see Lawes, VIII. 8, on the lack of personal qualifications in 


Book VI 

according to civil and canon law but not in courts of the English 
common law. The procedure was utilized infrequently in the ecclesias- 
tical courts but often in the Court of the High Commission. For 
promoting religious uniformity, the crown preferred the appointment 
of ordinaries to special commissions rather than working direcdy 
through the church courts. This exercise of the prince's spiritual 
prerogatives, made statutory under the 1559 Supremacy Act, reached 
its apex under Elizabeth I. The central commission, established in 
London on a statutory as well as prerogative basis from 1559 onwards, 
became the most authoritative throughout the kingdom and thus 
known as the "High Commission." After 1581, Whitgift used it as 
one of his main weapons in the struggle to secure disciplinarian 
conformity, while diocesan commissions became increasingly con- 
cerned with routine ecclesiastical court business. Whitgift's immediate 
aims were largely achieved — but at the price of making the High 
Commission a hated institution among the disciplinarians. 

Excommunication: Hooker next addressed "The punishments necessary 
in spirituall processed The discussion of ecclesiastical censures quickly 
led him to to the subject of "The highest of them excommunica- 
tion." He intended to deal in different sections with "the causes 
degrees force and relaxation of excommunication" (3:482.10-13). In 
keeping with repentance as the chief end of spiritual jurisdiction, the 
primary end of excommunication was curative: separation from the 
company of the faithful was intended to induce the excommunicant to 
seek absolution, reconciliation to the church, and restoration to his or 
her place in society. The primary cause for the imposition of excom- 
munication was contumacy (excommunicatio ab homine), although there 

See Introduction to The Preface, p. 19, n. 30, above; see also E.P.M., pp. 266, 
270. Cosin defends this controversial practice within the larger context of treating the 
ways of proceeding in criminal cases in Parts 2 and 3 of his Apologie: of and for Sundrie 
Proceedings, which also contains an address given by Lancelot Andrewes on the topic 
of the oath at the University of Cambridge in July 1591. See also Helmholz, Roman 
Canon Law in Reformation England, pp. 104—119. 

3:481.24—25, 30. For a summary of the church's censures, including excommu- 
nication, contemporary with Hooker's, see The Reformation of the Ecclesiastical Laws, pp. 
156-188; also, Houlbrooke, Church Courts, pp. 47-50. 



were some acts (such as striking a clergyman) that automatically 
entailed excommunication (excommunicato a jure). 

Hooker's discussion of the "three degrees of excommunication" 
evidently caused problems for both Cranmer and Sandys over the use 
of "anathema" in both a general and a specific sense. He begins by 
defining it generally as "separation" or anathema, derived from Ro- 
mans 9:3, where Paul says that he "wolde wish my self to be separate 
from Christ" for the sake of his people, the Jews. Cranmer and Sandys 
both point out that this is not customary usage and that Hooker 
himself uses the word in its more traditional sense when he identifies 
it as the third of the three kinds or degrees of excommunication, 
namely, "separation" (suspension from the visible community of the 
faithful), "execration" (excommunication by sentence of a judge), and 
"anathema" (giving the condemned party up to Satan amidst the ritual 
tolling of bells and the dashing of candles). Hooker does not consider 
here the traditional distinction between minor and major excommunication 
(see pp. 283—284, above), for he is more interested in this part of his 
argument with the external juridical aspects of excommunication than 
with its inner penitential dimension. 

In treating excommunication, Hooker again reminds his discipli- 
narian opponents that judgment of spiritual causes belongs to the 
monarch and to the bishops, and by their delegation of authority to 
priests and other commissaries. He is therefore in agreement with 
Whitgift against Cartwright that the bishop alone, both by the law of 
God and of the Church of England as approved by consent of the 
prince in parliament, may exercise the discipline of excommunication, 
although the bishop usually delegates this spiritual jurisdiction to 
others, both ordained and lay. 

When the church courts had imposed their highest censure of 
excommunication upon those guilty of contumacy, there was nothing 
further that they could do. Hence, Hooker turns in his discussion of 
excommunication to "The care which justice hath alwaies had to uphold 
ecclesiasticall jurisdictions and courts." Under this rubric, Hooker is con- 
cerned both with the encroachment of civil upon ecclesiastical juris- 
diction and with the secular enforcement of the judgments made by 
the ecclesiastical courts. He again states that there has rightly been 
made in England a distinction between ecclesiastical and civil courts, 


Book VI 

that both are ordained for the common good, that neither should 
encroach upon the rights and liberties of the other, and that the prince 
is the patron and protector of both. He argues that, since church 
courts do not have sufficient coercive power, the state has rightly 
upheld their jurisdiction by imposing sanctions on those who hold 
their judgments (including excommunication) in contempt, 75 and 
cites in this context an Elizabethan statute: "Upon contempt of Ex- 
communication a Significavit. Upon a Significavit, a writ de excom- 
municato capiendo to be awarded" (3:484.11—13). This statute legislat- 
ed that if any individual remained excommunicated for more than 
forty days, the bishop and those judges to whom he delegated the 
requisite authority could apply by means of a letter of signification for 
a royal writ which ordered the sheriff to imprison him. The judge 
would request his release after arrangements had been made for the 
payment of fines for contumacy. 

The section on excommunication in the Autograph Notes con- 
cludes with some considerations on the royal sovereignty directed 
against Erastus on the one hand and Beza and the disciplinarians on 
the other. He challenges the Erastian thesis that, in a Christian 
realm, the distinction between civil and ecclesiastical has no reason to 
exist. He charges Beza and other presbyterians with the error of 
subjecting the monarch to the discipline of their church courts, there- 
by compromising the royal sovereignty by submitting it not only to 
"ordinary" parish clergy but also to unqualified lay elders who would, 
combined in the consistory, have the power of excommunication and 
absolution in spiritual matters. Against both he argues that the prince 
is a "mixf" person, that is, that he is the source of all justice in the 
land, both ecclesiastical and civil. The two bodies of law are joined in 

See Logan, Excommunication and the Secular Arm, pp. 17-19; also, George W. 
Keaton, The Norman Conquest and the Common Law (London: Ernest Benn Ltd., 1966), 
p. 68, and F. Douglas Price, "Abuses of Excommunication and the Decline of 
Ecclesiastical Discipline under Queen Elizabeth," English Historical Review, 57 (1942): 

76 3:481.24-484.13, 491.6-495.10. Compare Hooker's analysis of the debate 
between Erastus and Beza over the power of a minister with his eldership to excom- 
municate in Pref. 2.9 (1:11.25-33). 



his person. This discussion of the dual sovereignty of the monarch 
looks forward not only to arguments developed more fully in Book 
VIII but also to the final section of the argument against lay elders. In 
his attempt to demonstrate that congregational lay elders would de- 
stroy both the spiritual jurisdiction of the monarch and the delegated 
jurisdiction of the bishops, Hooker surveys Jewish political and judi- 
ciary institutions and their alleged bearing on the disciplinarian argu- 
ments for an apostolic congregational eldership, describing the 
origin of the Jewish High Court in the Council of the Seventy found- 
ed by Moses (Exodus 18:25—26), reinstituted by King Tehosaphat (2 
Chronicles 19:8—11), and continued by the Sanhedrin. 

On the basis of 2 Chronicles 19 Cartwright had argued that in 
ancient Israel the magistrate's power was restricted to seeing that the 
orders of the church were observed and that there were two courts, 
one for civil matters and the other for eccelesiastical. Since ecclesias- 
tical courts constituted of priests and governing lay elders were eventu- 
ally established in every synagogue, they are the legitimate divine 

77 See Cranmer-Sandys Notes, on fols. 23-60; 3:113.1-123.19, 134.6-137.17. 
Hooker's procedure in this part of his treatise coincides with that of Sutcliffe, who in 
his A Treatise of Ecclesiasticall Discipline concludes that the whole controversy over lay 
elders can be resolved if the following three points can be demonstrated: 

First, that there were never anie Elders onelie censours of manners, and moder- 
ators of discipline, which meddled not with the word nor sacraments. Secondly, 
that such lay elders . . . without right, or institution from Christ, in these places 
where of late they have been receaved, intrude into the government of the 
Church. Thirdly, that the same Eldership ought not to be placed in everie 
parish or particular congregation; nor cannot be receaved, for many inconven- 
iences and imperfections accompanying the same. For resolution whereof, let us 
consider first the times of the Church before Christ: Secondlie, the time 
wherein Christ and his Apostles lived: lastlie, the times of the Church that 
followed foure or five hundred yeeres after, which I call the ancient Christian 
Church, after the Aposdes times, (p. 107) 

See also Almasy, "Richard Hooker's Book VI: A Reconstruction." 

Calvin had set the precedent for the disciplinarian argument that the Jewish 
Sanhedrin is the scriptural model for presbyterial organization. According to him, the 
Jews returning from the Babylonian Exile instituted the Sanhedrin by recalling 
Jehosaphat's restoration of the Mosaic system. See Institutes, 4.11.1. 


Book VI 

model for the disciplinarian consistories. Against Cartwright Hooker 
argues that the High Court of Israel as reestablished by King Jehosa- 
phat was a single and unique court of mixed character that acted at 
one time as a civil court and at another as an ecclesiastical one. He 
denies that it was ever a disparate whole made up of two separate 
courts. He admits that laity — that is, elders of the people of Israel — sat 
on this mixed court at the same time as the priests and Levites; but he 
rejects the disciplinarian conclusion on grounds that it was not proper- 
ly an ecclesiastical court. Hooker thus finds the English rather than the 
Genevan constitution justified by that of ancient Israel: the religious 
nation and the civil nation are identical; the prince and his council are 
the unified source of all justice; the civil and ecclesiastical courts that 
administer that justice receive their power of jurisdiction from the 
mixed personage of the prince. Here Hooker is defending a system of 
jurisdiction different from those proposed by Erastus, by the Catholics, 
and by the disciplinarians. 

In the last two sections of the lost manuscript (fols. 61—65), Hooker 
reviews the disciplinarian claim that the institution of lay elders is 
grounded in the apostolic and subapostolic church. All of the quota- 
tions from the New Testament and the church Fathers identifiable 
from the Cranmer-Sandys Notes are discussed in the Cartwright- 
Whitgift exchange and other polemical literature of the time. 

Hooker rejects the disciplinarian interpretation of the word 
"Church" in Matthew 18:17, where Jesus's teaching, "Tel it unto the 
Church," was interpreted as his "transferring" the Jewish polity of the 
ancient people of God to the church (see p. 263, n. 25, and p. 283, 
above). He agrees with Whitgift that "Church" in this passage refers 
to bishops or those to whom they have delegated spiritual jurisdiction, 
whether priests or laymen. He also dismisses the disciplinarian inter- 
pretation of proof-texts from 1 Timothy, Romans 11:8, and 1 Corin- 
thians 12:28, all used to argue that Paul and the apostles had appointed 
lay elders in every city to assist the ministers in governing and in 
administering the sacraments. Hooker reminded his opponents that the 
word "presbyter" in the New Testament refers to a "priest" and not 
a "layman," and he reasserted Whitgift's argument that the major 
difference in the ministry as found in the New Testament is that 



between preaching and nonpreaching clergy, not that between minis- 
ters and governing lay elders. 

Interpretation of the quotations from Ignatius, Tertullian, Cyprian, 
Ambrose, and Jerome all turn on the same two issues that were at 
stake in the New Testament passages: (1) that apostolic appointments 
involved only the clergy, and (2) that some of those clergy were 
preachers while others only administered the sacraments. Hooker 
argued that this distinction between preaching and nonpreaching 
clergy was grounded in the ability of some ministers to preach and the 
inability of others who nonetheless continued to share in a common 
power of spiritual jurisdiction based upon order. Hooker is once again 
defending the ministry of the Church of England not just in its ideal 
definition but in its imperfect present condition as well. The ignorant 
nonpreaching priests as well as the more learned and talented preach- 
ing clergy all have their warrant in Christ's gift of the power of the 
keys, in the apostolic institution, and in the example of the early 

Both Cranmer and Sandys wrote that Hooker's initial manuscript 
ended too abruptly, and each suggested an appropriate conclusion. 
Cranmer's was that Hooker remark on the political inconveniences 
were the lay eldership to be imposed upon the English church and 
society. A passage such as that found in the Preface 8.2—5 could well 
have been adapted to this end. A passage from Sutcliffe's A Treatise of 
Ecclesiasticall Discipline (1590) defines the direction Hooker's comments 
could have taken: 

the Consistoriall government overthroweth her Majesties su- 
preme authoritie, and prerogative in causes Ecclesiasticall: First, in 
denying her to be above all persons within her realme, and 
making her subject to their excommunication and lawes: Second- 
ly, in taking away her right of calling Synodes, so that none is 
called but by her commandement, and the right to make Ecclesi- 
asticall lawes or orders. Thirdly, in denying her right to appoynt 
Ecclesiasticall commissioners. Fourthly, in denying her the last 
appeale in Ecclesiastical causes. Fiftly, in taking away her right of 
patronage paramount, and nomination of bishoppes. Sixtly, in 
taking away tenthes, and first fruits, and subsidies, and custodie of 
bishops temporalities. Lastly, denying her right to moderate 


Book VI 

rigour of Ecclesiasticall lawes: all which they give to their Consis- 
tories. . . . Further, the Consistorial government is declared to be 
predjudiciall to her Majesties revenues. Secondly, to the Parlia- 
ment. Thirdly, to the liberties of her subjects. Fourthly, to the 
statutes and lawes of the land. Fiftly, to the Queenes courtes of 
justice. Sixtly, to the Universities. Seventhly, to the whole com- 
mons, (p. 177) 

v. Hooker and his Contemporaries 

There is little that Hooker says in the various drafts of Book VI and 
the Autograph Notes that had not already been said in one place or 
another among the various polemical treatises exchanged between 
defenders of the Elizabethan settlement and their Roman Catholic or 
disciplinarian antagonists. The major difference between Hooker and 
his contemporaries is that he took all of these disparate arguments and 
materials, from friends and foes alike, and arranged them within the 
architectonic perspective of the Lawes as a whole, locating the particu- 
lar debate concerning lay elders and ecclesiastical courts within the 
framework of a fresh subset of first principles, spiritual jurisdiction and 
its chief end, repentance. Hooker was always selective in his appropri- 
ation of arguments and materials, no matter what his sources. As in the 
earlier books, he rejects a line-by-line refutation of works by Travers 
and Cartwright, refusing (in spite of objections by Cranmer and 
Sandys) to base his argument merely on quotations from their works. 
Rather he focuses upon central issues fitted into his own conceptual 
scheme, thereby capturing the high ground of the controversy and 
resetting the agenda for the establishment's rejection of the disciplinari- 
an office of lay elders and the whole reformed order of discipline. The 
same principle of selectivity can be discerned in Hooker's response to 
the critique of Sandys, who called for an expansion of the section on 
ecclesiastical courts and the kinds of cases that traditionally fall under 
their jurisdiction. Hooker responded by gathering the mass of legal 
quotations found in the Autograph Notes. But Sandys also requested 
that Hooker include other aspects of the disciplinarian platform besides 
lay elders, such as their office of doctors and their presbyteries and 
synods (3:130.18-24). As far as we know, Hooker did not, and he 



may well have chosen not to because, in the words of Cranmer, "this 
quaestion of Layelders and the next of Bishops are the most essentiall 
pointes of all this controversy" (3:126.1—2); that is, an effective refuta- 
tion of lay elders (since they were an essential part of the local parish 
"courts" or consistories as well as of the synods and national assem- 
blies) would undermine the entire presbyterian polity. As Sutcliffe had 

I dispute against no one position or opinion of theirs, but against 
a chiefe pillar, and almost the groundworke of their newe disci- 
pline, I meane the sacred Aldermen; which overthrowne, the 
high commendation of their present discipline doth threaten 
present mine. (p. 106) 

An aspect of Hooker's thought that strained his relation to Sandys 
the politician and common lawyer comes to light in their exchange 
over distinguishing between spiritual, temporal, and mixed cases (see 
above, pp. 295—297). Hooker observes: "An usuall thing it hath bene 
alwayes for temporall to incroch upon the Causes of Ecclesiasticall 
Courtes" (3:484.14—15). Indeed, by the end of the sixteenth century 
common lawyers were seeking to curtail the jurisdiction of the ecclesi- 
astical courts, thereby allying themselves with disciplinarians who 
attacked the jurisdiction of ecclesiastical courts on very different 
grounds. The underlying tension between Hooker the priest loyally 
defending the traditional prerogatives of ecclesiastical courts and 
Sandys the common lawyer surfaces when Sandys says that cases 
concerning testaments or the probate of wills are "mixt" whereas 
Hooker classifies such cases among those which are the concern of 
ecclesiastical judges alone (3:476.23—26). As Sandys had urged: "The 
Canon law I know greately urgeth that all mixt causes be ecclesiasti- 
call, for honour of that part: which seemes hard to yeald to, at least 


wise it would be now hardly taken to require it" (3:133.27—30). 

The differences between Hooker and Sandys concerning the traditional 
prerogatives of ecclesiastical courts may also underlie Sandys's disagreement with 
Lancelot Andrewes over the publication of the 1648 version of Book VI and the 
consequent foundering of the posthumous publication of the three last books; see 
Sisson, pp. 97-106; also, pp. 15-16 and 127-156. 


Book VI 

One of the most fascinating of all Hooker's relationships with his 
contemporaries that reappears with regard to Book VI is that with 
John Rainolds (see above, pp. 53—54). Cranmer urges Hooker to 
"remember D. Raynoldes note in the former bookes" (3:108.32), who 
may be able to supply a reference "when you send your booke" 
(3:112.3). Hooker had evidently sent drafts of earlier Books of the 
Lawes to Rainolds for comment, and probably sent (or intended to 
send) the initial manuscript of Book VI as well. That he would do so 
for Book VI becomes especially significant when we remember that 
Rainolds in the spring of 1586 was the leader of a sermon campaign 
at Oxford that called for a resident ministry, more preaching, and a lay 
eldership that would assist the pastor in the governing of the congrega- 
tion but would not have the authority of excommunication. 

Another relationship of great importance to Book VI, especially in 
its 1648 form, was that with Hooker's former patron John Jewel. 
Although the physical threat of the Roman Catholics had receded into 
the background after the defeat of the Spanish Armada in 1588, the 
charges of Romanism against the established church remained current, 
as reflected in the critique in A Christian Letter and in Hooker's mar- 
ginalia (4:64.25-68.24, this edn.). In the attack against the post- 
Tridentine Catholic institution of sacramental confession, Jewel and 
Hooker were key figures in a theological revolution that determined 
the future of Anglican moral theology. While Hooker did not identify 
with Jewel's more reformed interpretation of the power of the keys for 
binding and loosing in terms of the preaching of the Word, he did 
endorse his position on the declarative role of the priest in absolution 
and on the voluntary nature of private confession within the Church 
of England. Hooker was in some ways closer theologically to Lancelot 
Andrewes than to Jewel. Still, Andrewes and Sandys disagreed about 
the inclusion of "the tract of confession" among the "three last 
books" (see p. 252 and n. 7, above). Like Hooker, Andrewes was 
concerned for the more external and canonical side of spiritual juris- 
diction, as exemplified by his defense of the practices of the High 
Commission and its use of the oath ex officio. But the primary thrust of 

See Dent, Protestant Reformers in Elizabethan Oxford, pp. 2, 133, 140, 148. 



his theology is in the direction of an ascetic moral theology with a 
strong pastoral direction. 

Their theological kinship is evident in a sermon Andrewes preached 
on "The Power of Absolution" a few months before Hooker died. 82 
Paralleling Hooker's position in chapter 6 of Book VI, Andrewes 
interprets John 20:23, with its companion texts in Matthew 16:19 and 
18:17 (see above, p. 263, n. 25, and p. 283), to show that absolution 
is a priestly function which properly belongs ority to the power of 
order, and must not, therefore, be usurped by the laity. He does not 
condemn private confession and says that some communicants in the 
Church of England use it. He and Hooker agree that absolution is an 
exercise of the power of the keys handed down by Christ to the entire 
church, but specifically to the apostles and by them to the clergy who 
succeeded them in this office and function. He stresses that remittance 
of sins can follow only after repentance: Christians must not only be 
sorry for past sins and turn to God (chap. 3.1—5) but must also do 
works worthy of repentance (chap. 5.1—8). Izaak Walton's moving 
account of Hooker's last days underscores the practical orientation of 
his and Andrewes's moral theology: 

About one day before his death, Dr. Savaria, who knew the 
very secrets of his soul, (for they were supposed to be confessors 
to each other,) came to him, and after a conference of the bene- 
fit, the necessity, and safety of the Church's absolution, it was 
resolved the doctor should give him both that and the Sacrament 
the day following. To which end, the doctor came, and after a 
short retirement and privacy, they too returned to the company; 
and then the doctor gave him and some of those friends which 
were with him, the blessed sacrament of the body and blood of 
our Jesus. (Keble, 1:85) 

81 See P. A. Welsby, Lancelot Andrewes (London: S.P.C.K., 1958), p. 33. For a 
comprehensive and lucid summary of Andrewes's theology, see Nicholas Lossky, 
Lancelot Andrewes the Preacher (1555—1625): The Origins of the Mystical Theology of the 
Church of England (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1991). 

82 See n. 62, p. 290, above. 


Book VII 

Arthur Stephen McGrade 

Book VII is the most finished of the three last books of the Lawes. 
Although there are signs of hasty composition or imperfect editing in 
the text printed in 1662, the style is polished and the substance well 
ordered and complete. Hooker carries through the plan of argument 
laid out in the table of contents: a defense of the authority of bishops 
in chapters 3—16 (exposition in chapters 4—8, response to objections in 
chapters 9-16) followed in chapters 17-24 by a defense of various 
episcopal "honors" (especially honor by ample endowment with lands 
and livings, chapters 21-24). A long indictment of contemporary bish- 
ops' faults in chapter 24.2-15 leads to reflections on human limitations 
and to a moving assessment of the present condition of the clergy. 
This whole final chapter nicely complements the historical survey of 
episcopacy in England and Hooker's posing of "the Question" con- 
cerning bishops at the beginning of the book: whether "the Church of 
Christ is at this day lawfully, and so hath been sithence the first beginning, 
governed by Bishops, having permanent superiority, and ruling power over 
other Ministers of the Word and Sacraments" (3.1; 3:154.34-155.2). 

If Book V has been acknowledged as the classic exposition of the 
religion of the English Book of Common Prayer, why, if Hooker 
completed it as he intended, has Book VII not been accorded similar 
status with regard to characteristically Anglican polity? The answer 
may have less to do with the book's merits than with the effects of its 

Where our text seems flawed, it is usually impossible to distinguish between 
misconception or inadvertence on Hooker's part and faults in the process of trans- 
mission from his hand to Gauden's edition of 1662. For imperfections of one kind or 
another, see nn to 3:148.16-21, 180.1-6.Z, 182.18-28/, 183.3-12.^, 183.27-184.2.^, 
186.6.W, 186.21-22, 193.9, 193.23-28, 193.30-194.2.^, 198.26-199.2.t>, 199.u>, 229/, 
257.21-22.0, 267.8-12.y, 275.10.5, 278.8.C, 287.3.n, 297.33-298.1, 306.25-26, and 



delayed publication. It is as if Hooker's contribution to his church 
had already been reckoned and fixed in the first half of the seven- 
teenth century, when no fewer than six editions of Books I-V were 
printed. By the time Bishop Gauden brought Book VII to public view 
at the Restoration, the outcome of the Elizabethan debate over epis- 
copacy was also fixed in the church's consciousness. 

From being accepted early in Elizabeth's reign as the form of 
ecclesiastical governance authorized by the current Christian ruler, 
episcopacy was more vigorously championed in the 1570s and '80s, 
not only on the basis of the national church's authority (still thought 
of as residing in the Christian magistrate), but also on the basis of 
sound tradition going back to the time of the apostles. Then, begin- 
ning with Hadrian Saravia's De ministrorum evangelii gradibus of 1590, 
the principle of degree in spiritual power was held to have been 
instituted by Christ himself and to be permanently normative. This 
divine-right conception of episcopal authority was never given official 
status, but it gained dominance in the early Stuart church. 

Although assertions of jure divino prerogatives by both king and 
bishops had helped provoke Puritans and others into civil war, the 
resumption of a high episcopalian position must have seemed a natural 
part of reestablishing the traditional church in 1660. Here Hooker's 
account of episcopal authority and honors could hardly be expected to 
have much influence. Hooker's defense of bishops redounded to his 
credit with the restored hierarchy. But, as we shall see, his defense 
could not be fitted neatly into the sequence of other defenses, and 
since those other defenses had claimed a stronger foundation for 
episcopal authority, they must have seemed stronger defenses. The 
establishment therefore enrolled Hooker among its supporters as best 
it could and ignored (or dismissed as due to Puritan vandalism of his 
manuscripts) those aspects of Book VII which fell short of its own 
preferred position. On the other side, when presbyterian and congre- 

On the publication of Book VII, see 3:xliv-li, and Introduction to The Preface, 
pp. 41—43, and 51, above. 

On the campaign to defend episcopacy mounted 1587-1593, the years in which 
the Lawes was being written, see Introduction to The Preface, pp. 25—26, above. 

4 See David Novarr, The Making of Walton's "Lives" (1958), pp. 215-217, 222- 
223, and 242-245. 


Book VII 

gationalist opponents of episcopacy (and Roman Catholic opponents 
of the Reformation settlement) eventually secured toleration for their 
own worship, they had as little need as hope of modifying the under- 
standing of authority in the national church by appeal to the widely 
admired Hooker. 

For all concerned, there was the additional difficulty of getting clear 
exactly what Hooker had meant to say about ecclesiastical jurisdiction. 
This was due partly to the subtlety of his argument in Book VII itself 
and partly to the fact that certain principles affecting his defense of 
bishops' authority and honor are fully stated only in earlier books of 
the Lawes and there only in connection with other problems. Simple 
delay in publishing Book VII need not have neutralized it. But delay 
compounded by such drastic changes of historical situation, suspicions 
of inauthenticity (augmented by the unsatisfactory condition of the 
other two posthumous books), and the complexity of Hooker's 
argument deprived his treatment of episcopacy, the most potently 
divisive issue of his own day, of nearly all effect. 

If the English church had gone on to find an adequate solution to 
the problem of authority addressed in Book VII — a conception of 
spiritual leadership coherent with Scripture, tradition, and the best 
impulses of all parts of a complex Christian society — then the attempt 
to understand what is distinctive in Hooker's account of episcopacy 
would be of purely historical interest. As things stand, however, the 
problem has not been solved, or at least Hooker would not think so. 
The Church of England was arguably episcopal in fact more than in 
essence when Hooker wrote, and when episcopal governance later 
became one of its characteristic marks, it was no longer the church of 
all English Christians. In this sense, the problem presented to Hooker 
and his contemporaries has not been solved by the successors of any 
side in the original debate. This suggests that, in circumstances favor- 
able to ecumenical discussion of church authority, fresh study of Book 
VII might yet be fruitful for Hooker's intended posterity. Such study 
must begin with a closer look at the book's occasion. 

i. The Status Of Bishops in the Elizabethan Church 

When Hooker began work on the Lawes in the late 1580s, episco- 
pacy in England had endured a long period of economic and social 



decline, practical weakness, and theological attack. The depressed 
condition of bishops through most of Elizabeth I's reign must not be 
exaggerated. As central figures in a complex traditional system of 
pastoral, administrative, and legal responsibilities, they functioned very 
much as their predecessors had done. Certainly their enemies regarded 
them as essentially similar to the prelates of the pre-Reformation 
church. But late medieval English bishops were very rich — peers of 
the realm in wealth as well as social and political status. Accordingly, 
episcopal lands, manors, and other endowments were second only to 
monastic holdings as prey in the lay expropriation begun under Henry 
VIII. The attack on episcopal wealth reached its fiscal height (and 
moral depth) in the following reign of Edward VI (1547—53), but a 
reversal of course was not clearly evident until the end of the century. 
Some lands briefly restored to bishops under Mary (1553—58) were 
re-expropriated after Elizabeth's accession; the crown again replaced 
the pope as recipient of the first year's income of a newly installed 
bishop and all the income of a vacant see; it acquired the right to 
dictate exchanges of certain forms of its own income for episcopal 
income; and it could enjoy or pass on to its clients the sometimes 
significant advantage of being the only party allowed to take long 
leases on episcopal lands. Aside from some inroads on the two or three 
richest sees, there may well have been little loss of episcopal wealth to 
a plundering laity under Elizabeth. Yet fear of further depredations, 
given the opportunities and pressures the system afforded, was not 
unreasonable, and the effects of inflation combined with the new 
domestic expenses of this first generation of married bishops justified 
a sense of considerable loss. From equality with the peerage on the 
eve of the Reformation, bishops were reduced by 1600 to the level of 
the gentry. The secular trend had eased significantly by the time 

The price of a composite unit of consumables in southern England rose on the 
order of 500% between 1500 and 1600. The extent and persistence of the Tudor 
inflation are cited by E. H. Phelps Brown and Sheila V. Hopkins as the most marked 
feature of their summary graph of prices for the seven centuries 1264—1962 in "Seven 
Centuries of the Prices of Consumables compared with Builders' Wage-Rates," 
Economica, n.s., 23 (1956): 299, 305. 

6 Felicity Heal, Of Prelates and Princes: A Study of the Economic and Social Position of 
the Tudor Episcopate (Cambridge: The University Press, 1980), pp. 72, 244. 


Book VII 

Hooker wrote and was to be reversed for a while under James I, but 
both the sense of grand episcopal entitlement and the cries of clerical 
poverty at the end of Book VII are, in context, readily understandable. 
The bishops' social standing was affected by the kind as well as the 
extent of their economic misfortunes. The great loss of episcopal 
manors in the sixteenth century was also a loss of local standing. The 
loss of London town houses (while lay magnates were building apace) 
contributed to a diminished influence at court and in the councils of 
state. Hooker's patron, Archbishop Whitgift, was the only prelate to 
serve as a privy councillor under Elizabeth, and he restored "to the 
primacy something of the feudal magnificence which had characterized 
it in earlier days" (DNB) — thanks to the private fortune his merchant 
father had left him. But at a time when they found it hard to perform 
the traditional offices of charity, hospitality, and patronage traditionally 
expected of them, bishops were despised in some quarters precisely for 
the grandness of station which such duties presupposed. They could be 
sincerely disliked by the zealous both as obstacles to further church 
reform and as lingering symbols of unreformed "lordship" and world- 
liness. They were insincerely denounced on the same grounds by those 
who only coveted their remaining wealth. To be sure, Bishop Sandys 
doubtless exaggerated the world's hostility when he wrote to Lord 
Burghley, "We are the scum of the earth." Ambition for the title of 
a bishop persisted, even when other rewards of the office seemed 
scant. Some reform-minded bishops at the beginning of Elizabeth's 
reign found a humbler status acceptable, or even desirable, since 
disentanglement from the responsibilities of high worldly standing 
might give time for spiritual occupations. Further, by the 1590s the 
episcopate had a secure role as an official organ of authority in the 
royally established church. Under James I the prestige of bishops was 
to increase at court, and some found ways to combine their high status 
with energetic pastoral and administrative activity in the service of a 
markedly Calvinist Christianity. Despite these qualifications, it must 
still be said that, in the half-century before Hooker wrote, the less 

"Excrementum mundi." Edwin Sandys, father of Hooker's associate, writing in 
1573 as bishop of London, as quoted in Patrick Collinson, The Religion of Protestants: 
The Church in English Society 1559-1625 (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1982), p. 41. 

Collinson, The Religion of Protestants, pp. 45-91. 



material honors traditionally accorded bishops had been called into 
question along with their wealth. This was in part because the episco- 
pal ideal in post-Reformation England needed redefinition. It was also 
unclear what a bishop could in fact do. 

The exercise of episcopal authority was hindered by the diminished 
respect and material means bishops could command, but there were 
also more direct obstacles. In the first place, there were tensions and 
uncertainties due to the strengthening of royal control over the 
church. At her accession Elizabeth tried to persuade several bishops 
who had held sees during the return to the Roman obedience to 
continue in office under the new religious settlement. Almost to a 
man, they accepted deprivation rather than serve a church in which all 
ecclesiastical jurisdiction was annexed to the crown. As a result, most 
early Elizabethan bishops lacked both administrative experience and a 
strong sense of the authority of their office. In addition, many favored 
more reform of ceremonies and discipline than the queen had any 
intention of allowing. The conflict between personal conviction and 
duty to enforce royal policy became excruciating in the case of 
Edmund Grindal, whom Elizabeth suspended as archbishop of Canter- 
bury for refusing to suppress gatherings known as prophesyings (meet- 
ings called for prayer and discussion of Scripture beyond the appointed 
services of the church), which the queen found subversive of good 

It is harder to trace a distinction between royal and episcopal will 
after Grindal's suspension, but there was a sharp distinction between 
crown and miter as objects of reformist attack. The most radical 

Haugaard, Elizabeth and the English Reformation, pp. 162-166. 

Grindal modelled his firm but respectful resistance to the queen on the example 
of Ambrose's refusal to cooperate with fourth-century imperial orders favoring the 
Arians; see Patrick Collinson, "If Constantine, then also Theodosius: St. Ambrose and 
the Integrity of the Elizabethan Ecclesia Anglicana," Journal of Ecclesiastical History, 30 
(1979): 205-229; rpr. Collinson, Godly People (London: The Hambledon Press, 1983), 
pp. 109-133, and Archbishop Grindal, 1519-1583: The Struggle for a Reformed Church 
(Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1979), pp. 233-252. The 
same precedent (with Grindal also undoubtedly in mind) was urged by Hooker's 
opponents to support the crown's subjection to ordinary processes of ecclesiastical 
censure, the last issue to be dealt with in the Lawes (VIII. 9). 


Book VII 

Puritan polemics — the Marprelate Tracts and the writings of John Udall 
and the separatists, Penry, Barrow, and Greenwood — were uniformly 
deferential to the queen but pilloried the bishops for actions she 
undoubtedly approved. The situation must have been clear to most of 
those involved, yet there were genuinely complicating factors. Eliza- 
beth's vivid sense of her own authority as supreme governor did not 
lead her to constant visible displays of authority in the church as it did 
elsewhere. She allowed ordinary ecclesiastical governance to remain in 
the hands of her bishops. Accordingly, she sometimes declined to give 
special royal assent to episcopal regulations that she was willing to see 
enforced, preferring to have the bishops manage on their own authority. 
But what was their own authority? Besides being dependent on the 
crown by virtue of the royal supremacy and the general political situa- 
tion, the power of an Elizabethan bishop was also circumscribed by a 
complex dual legal system of ecclesiastical and common law. The need 
to reform the body of ecclesiastical (or canon) law, which governed 
marriages, wills, and other matters affecting every member of society, as 
well as specifically clerical rights and responsibilities, had been widely 
recognized since the reign of Henry VIII, but none of the various 
projects for reform had borne fruit. Meanwhile, continuing religious 
dissent sapped the moral authority of the existing church courts — 
Whitgift pronounced their coercive procedures "a carcasse without a 
soul" — and the secular courts, at first without plan but eventually with 
some determination, encroached upon their jurisdiction. This system 

Houlbrooke, Church Courts and the People During the English Reformation, 1520- 
1570, pp. 266-272; Whitgift's mortuarial assessment is at p. 272. Both the relative 
probity and the effectiveness of the ecclesiastical justice system in this period have 
been more favorably assessed in recent studies. See especially Martin Ingram, Church 
Courts, Sex and Marriage in England, 1570-1640 (Cambridge: The University Press, 
1987), pp. 9—15, 323—363, including references to less favorable assessments, to which 
should be added F. G. Emmison, Elizabethan Life: Morals and the Church Courts 
(Chelmsford: Essex County Council, 1973), pp. 300-314. There had been significant 
attacks on the jurisdiction of the English church courts just prior to the Reformation, 
and Elizabeth's reign saw a marked increase in the quantity — and in some respects the 
quality — of litigation in these courts. There was also, however, an increased use of 
traditional common law methods for limiting their jurisdiction, now aided by wide- 
spread suspicion of the Roman canon law (which continued as the basis of ecclesiasti- 



— or lack of system, or excess of system — limited severely what a 
bishop could accomplish. 

A way around some of these difficulties had been provided in the 
Supremacy Act: the crown was given authority to visit, reform, and 
redress virtually all ills in the church. To this end it was empowered to 
appoint ecclesiastical commissions comprising both clerics and laymen 
that would have such authority as the crown might delegate to 
them. Such commissions were sometimes used to enlist lay support 
in the face of an apparent crisis of episcopal authority, and the High 
Commission working out of London was the vehicle for Whitgift and 
his successor Richard Bancroft in their effective suppression of the 
Puritan movement in the 1580s and '90s. The operation of High 
Commission under Whitgift was unpopular, however, and raised legal 
doubts. By carrying on coercive proceedings without express royal 
warrant, was the archbishop in effect claiming to have authority not 
derived from the crown? Should not the bishops be compelled to 
formal acknowledgement that all of their authority came from the 
queen? This was not the view of a presbyterian zealot but of Sir 
Francis Knollys, a good Protestant privy councillor who had sat in 
Henry VIII's Reformation Parliament. It was not a view that could 
be safely presented to the queen, who unquestionably approved of 

cal legal theory and practice) and by statutory grants to the secular courts of authority 
in matters once regulated by the church. See R. H. Helmholz, Roman Canon Law in 
Reformation England (Cambridge: The University Press, 1990), pp. 28-54. For a 
summary of the system, see Ingram, Church Courts, Sex and Marriage, pp. 27—69. See 
above, Introduction to The Three Last Books and Hooker's Autograph Notes, pp. 
237—242, for Hooker's projected response to this situation. 

Haugaard, Elizabeth and the English Reformation, pp. 130-135. The Court of 
High Commission, officially known as the Commissioners for Causes Ecclesiastical, 
was divided into branches, usually one for each diocese. Helmholz, Roman Canon Law 
in Reformation England, pp. 46—48. 

13 Collinson, E.P.M., pp. 403-431. 

W. D.J. Cargill Thompson, "Sir Francis Knollys's Campaign Against the Jure 
Diuino Theory of Episcopacy," in The Dissenting Tradition, ed. C. Robert Cole and 
Michael E. Moody (Athens, Ohio: Ohio University Press, 1975), pp. 39—77; rpr. 
Studies in the Reformation, pp. 94-103. 


Book VII 

Whitgift's proceedings, but it was well within the bounds of Tudor 

Besides the knot of difficulties for episcopal administration stemming 
from the bishops' dependence on the crown, there were demands by 
the lower clergy for their own independence from bishops. Despite 
continuing economic difficulties throughout the church (Whitgift 
estimated in 1584 that scarcely 600 of the 9,000 ecclesiastical livings in 
England had enough income to support an educated minister), the 
educational level of ordinands rose sharply in the latter half of the 
sixteenth century. This and other factors contributed to a certain 
professionalization of the clergy and a rise in their social or courtesy 
rank. Puritan emphasis on a preaching ministry and the jurisdiction 
of local consistories contained at least the seeds of a new clericalism, 
one operating primarily at the parish level and offering prospects for a 
more effective Christian discipline than that provided by the routin- 
ized, sometimes commercialized, and occasionally corrupt ecclesiastical 
courts remaining from the middle ages. 

Hooker believed that a desire to wrest power from bishops and give 
it to the lower clergy was behind many of the complaints about the 
public religious duties prescribed in the Prayer Book (VI. 1.1— 2). This 
view of the situation was too narrowly political and conspiratorial, but 
an educated body of clerics — some of whose professors, leaders, and 
continental theological models taught that inequality of pastors violated 
divine law — had some of the qualifications of a revolutionary class. It 
was from this quarter that the question, "By whose authority do you 
do these things?" could be put to bishops in the most challenging, 
theological form. 

Collinson, The Religion of Protestants, p. 95, citing John Strype, The Life and Acts 
of John Whitgift (Oxford, 1822), 1:380-381. For Hooker's assessment of the economic 
status of the clergy, see Lawes, VII.24.25 (3:311.5-15). 

Rosemary O'Day, The English Clergy: The Emergence and Consolidation of a Profes- 
sion, 15 58- 1 642 (Leicester: The University Press, 1979). Observers in the 1570s noted 
the "generall contempt of the ministerie," however; and disdain for pastors and even 
bishops on the part of the nobility and gentry lasted far longer. Lawrence Stone, The 
Crisis of the Aristocracy 1558-1641 (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1965), p. 40. 



Article 35 of the Thirty-Nine Articles of Religion passed by Con- 
vocation in 1563 ratified episcopal governance of the English church 
by endorsing the Ordinal, which stated as historical fact that the 
threefold ministry of bishops, priests, and deacons had continued from 
apostolic times. Neither the Article nor the Ordinal, however, af- 
firmed any theory of episcopacy. Although appeal to patristic consen- 
sus was a distinctive feature of official apologetic from the time of 
Jewel's "Challenge Sermon" at the beginning of Elizabeth's reign, 
there was little need or inclination to emphasize the authority of 
bishops among the church fathers, so long as the main antagonist was 
the papal-episcopal Roman church, and the main preceptors of English 
churchmen were the leaders of nonepiscopal reformed churches 
abroad. While Jewel and some of his colleagues made vigorous use of 
their office in reinstating the Reformation (Jewel was remembered by 
a later Elizabethan churchman, Tobie Matthew, as "a bishop among 
bishops"), they were at pains to distinguish themselves from the "oily, 
shaven, portly hypocrites" serving the papacy. In corresponding 
with continental theologians, they presented episcopacy somewhat 
diffidently, as not forbidden in the Word of God and as maintained in 
the English church by decision of the Christian ruler. Hence, although 
they sometimes acted with traditional episcopal resolution, they could 
hardly have been scandalized if the queen had taken up the practice 
from her brother's reign of stipulating in letters of appointment that 
bishops were to serve at the pleasure of the crown, or if she had 
converted their office to that of a modestly remunerated ecclesiastical 
superintendent on the model of Sweden and Denmark in the 1520s 

Originally delivered at Paul's Cross, 26 November, 1559; repeated at court on 
17 March and again at Paul's Cross on 31 March 1560; see Milward, p. 1; published 
as The copie of a sermon pronounced by the byshop of Salisburie at Paules Crosse the second 
sondaye before Ester . . . 1560, part 2 of The true copies of the letters betwenejohn Bisshop 
of Sarum and D. Cole, upon occasion of a sermon (London: John Day, [1560]); STC 

"Episcopus episcoporum," p. 23, n. 84, in Collinson, The Religion of Protestants; 
and p. 23, citing Zurich Letters, Parker Society (1842), 1:50-51. On efforts at reform 
within an episcopal framework, see Collinson, "Episcopacy and Reform in England 
in the Later Sixteenth Century," Studies in Church History, 3, ed. G. J. Cuming 
(Leiden: E.J. Brill, 1966), pp. 91-125; rpr. Collinson, Godly People, pp. 155-189. 


Book VII 

and '30s. As long as there were good prospects for further reforma- 
tion under episcopal leadership, this theologically modest legitimacy 
sufficed, but when the bishops became more or less willing enforcers 
of conservatism, their authority came under strong domestic attack that 


required a substantial response. 

The Elizabethan debate about episcopacy began with An Admonition 
to the Parliament of 1572. It was continued, principally, in Whitgift's 
Answere to the Admonition (1572), Thomas Cartwright's Replye to 
Whitgift (1573), Whitgift's massive Defense of the Answere (1574), 
followed by Cartwright's Second Replie (1575) and Rest of the Second 


Replie (1577). Neither of the last two was answered. Cartwright 
maintained that titles and offices implying a superiority of one pastor 
over others were devised by Antichrist centuries after the apostolic 
age, and that this hierarchical regime had driven out a fourfold minis- 
try of pastors, teachers, deacons, and congregational lay elders pre- 
scribed in Scripture and practised in the primitive church. He had 
previously set forth the scriptural credentials of this Calvinist tetrarchy 
in his lectures on the Acts of the Apostles, given as Lady Margaret 
Professor of Divinity at Cambridge. The system was later expounded 
in detail in Walter Travers's Ecclesiasticae disciplinae et Anglicanae ecclesiae 
ab ilia aherrationis, plena e verbo Dei, et dilucida explicatio of 1574, translat- 
ed by Cartwright in the same year as A Full and Plaine Declaration of 
Ecclesiasticall Discipline owt off the Word off God. 

Another influential work of this period to which Hooker's Book 
VII seems particularly responsive is a letter by Theodore Beza, Calvin's 
successor at Geneva, De triplici episcopatu (1576; translated, anonymous- 
ly, in 1580 by John Field as The judgement of a most reverend and learned 
man from beyond the seas, concerning a threefold order of bishops; STC 
2021). Beza's three bishoprics were "of God," "of man," and "of the 
devil." All agreed that the terms for bishop (e7UO~K07to<;, "overseer") 
and presbyter (7tp£0~PuTepO£, "elder") had been used interchangeably 
in the New Testament. Beza took these names to indicate the ordinary 

19 Heal, Of Prelates and Princes, pp. 126-127, 17-19. 
See Introduction to The Preface, pp. 23-26, above. 

See Introduction to The Preface, n. 152, pp. 71-72, above, and Collinson, 
E.P.M., pp. 118-121, 139-140, 146-155. 



pastoral calling, as distinct from the callings of apostles, prophets, and 
evangelists (which were to endure only for a time) and from that of 
deacons. In contrast with the mutual equality of the pastor-bishops 
ordained by God, the bishop brought into the church solely by the 
wisdom of man was a power given to one pastor above his fellows, yet 
limited with certain orders or rules to provide against tyranny. The 
oligarchic or plainly tyrannical bishopric of the devil had as its marks 
the ignoring or abolishing of the eldership, the invasion of temporal 
dominions, riotous waste, the tying of God's spirit to certain places 
and persons, and last of all, the patterning of distinctions among 
bishops in the image of the beast of Revelation 13, the pagan Roman 
Empire. This diabolical episcopate, according to Hooker's opponents, 
was the system presently in operation in England. 

Under the influence of such works, an intelligent and energetic 
party of ministers and laymen arose, convinced that the monarchic 
episcopate was an antichristian corruption, an importation of pomp 
and lordship that urgently needed to be replaced in the Church of 
England by Christ's own discipline. Pressure for further reformation of 
the church was by no means universal, polity or discipline was not the 
only matter engaging those who wanted change, and opposition to 
bishops was not the sole focus of disciplinarianism. Yet as emblems of 
the medieval ecclesiastical order, lightning-rods for objections to 
publicly unassailable royal policies, and the center of an ecclesiastical 
establishment that included within it at least the normal complement 
of human imperfection, they were the leading targets of complaint in 
the English church for the last third of the sixteenth century. 

In response to this onslaught, apologists for episcopacy pounced 
immediately on weaknesses in the case for divinely prescribed presby- 
terianism, but they were slow to claim anything more than long 
tradition and present royal support for their own regime. Thus, al- 
though Whitgift had marshalled a large proportion of the biblical and 
patristic texts used by Hooker in Book VII, he did not offer these as 
a compelling basis for episcopal governance in a reformed church. He 
explicitly allowed that episcopacy, as a "thing indifferent," depended 
on the authority of the church, which is to say, the sanction of the 
Christian ruler. A subtle strengthening of the case for bishops has been 
detected in Richard Bancroft's Sermon at Paules Crosse the 9. ofFebruarie 


Book VII 

of 1588/1589, in that Bancroft appealed to tradition without referring 
to Whitgift's other chief argument, the support of the magistrate. 
The most telling assertions of episcopal authority by Whitgift and 
Bancroft were not in theological argumentation, however, but in their 
High Commission proceedings against nonconforming Puritans, 
including Cartwright, whom they imprisoned for several months in 

The first theologically significant developments in the justification 
of episcopacy came with the Dutch exile Hadrian Saravia's treatise of 
1590, De diversis ministrorum euangelii gradibus (STC 21746) and the 
bishop of Winchester, Thomas Bilson's, Perpetual Govemement of 
Christes Church in 1593 (STC 3065). Saravia argued that the distinction 
Christ made between his twelve apostles and the seventy disciples gave 
dominical support to the principle of degree in the Christian ministry, 
and he dismissed with contempt the theory of episcopal origins associ- 
ated with St. Jerome, which had never been rejected by any previous 
Elizabethan writer. This was the theory that after the death of the 
apostles an originally collegial clerical governance of the churches was 
replaced, by common consent, for the avoidance of dissension, by the 
rule of one presbyter in each congregation. The theme of Bilson's work 
was the antiquity of hierarchical spiritual government. He emphasized 
that episcopacy conformed to patterns of authority in the Old as well 
as the New Testament. He thus provided a broader context in sacred 
history for the claim to a dominical origin. Neither Saravia nor Bilson 
unchurched the nonepiscopal Reformed churches on the continent, 
but both claimed that episcopacy was permanently normative. 

W. D.J. Cargill Thompson, "A Reconsideration of Richard Bancroft's Paul's 
Cross Sermon," Journal of Ecclesiastical History, 20 (1969): 253—266. M. R. Sommer- 
ville, in "Richard Hooker and his Contemporaries on Episcopacy: An Elizabethan 
Consensus," ibid., 35 (1984): 177-187, has documented an Anglican consensus in this 
period on essential points concerning the basis of episcopal authority, but differences 
of emphasis remain. There was a common interest in maintaining that episcopacy was 
in some sense apostolic, and also in accepting as true churches the nonepiscopal 
Reformed churches in Scotland and on the continent. Within these boundaries there 
was room for considerable variation of attitude towards tradition and hierarchy as 
specifically theological principles. See Lake, Anglicans and Puritans?, p. 91, n. 11, and 
chap. 3, "Conformist Thought after Whitgift." 



This sketch of episcopacy in England when Hooker wrote may 
serve to indicate why he took questions about the authority and honor 
of bishops so seriously. It may also suggest why Book VII itself has 
been taken less seriously than one might expect. The Elizabethan 
Puritan movement had been put down by the police actions of Whit- 
gift, Bancroft, and their colleagues on the High Commission and by 
the Conventicles Act of 1593. Saravia's assertion of an express domin- 
ical sanction for clerical inequality was accepted by Bancroft in his 
Daungerous Positions and Proceedings (STC 1344) and A Survay of the 
Pretended Holy Discipline (STC 1352) of 1593, and, due partly to Ban- 
croft's influence as archbishop of Canterbury from 1604 to 1612, it 
was also accepted by the court theologians of the next reign. A strik- 
ing sign of the ascendance of a jure divino view of episcopacy is its 


compatibility under James I with a thoroughly Calvinist theology. 
But this same high conception of episcopal authority also bolstered the 
otherwise theologically antagonistic Arminian wing of the church in 
the following reign of Charles I. Small wonder, then, that Hooker's 
treatise caused so little stir when it finally appeared. Hooker was in 
favor of bishops, but official doctrines of authority had moved in a 
more strongly episcopal direction without his intended assistance. 
Understandably, then, Book VII has remained a sort of ecclesiological 

To survey the ecclesiastical disciplines competing for acceptance 
when Hooker wrote is also to see, however, why he himself may have 
been less than wholly enthusiastic about the Saravian upward trend in 
official apologetic. The reduction of complex issues to conflicting jus 
diuinum claims backed by whatever public or private force the claim- 
ants could muster was something he had opposed throughout the 
Lawes. His own loyalty to the establishment typically led him to a 
persuasive rationalizing, rather than an absolutizing, of its claims, and 
he was especially sensitive to the "politic" dimensions of the problems 
he addressed. The clergy and laity of the Church of England were 
hardly converted as a body to a jure divino view of episcopacy, however 
successfully that view could be combined with Calvinism in Jacobean 

Collinson, The Religion of Protestants, pp. 16—21. 


Book VII 

court sermons, and self-assurance about its own authority helped make 
the Laudian episcopate deaf to complaints about its policies that were 
founded in authentic English Reformation tradition. It is unclear how 
peacefully settled the Jacobean church really was and hence unclear 
how far the disaster that overtook the establishment under Charles I 
was a result of conflicts at least latently present throughout the century 
and how far it was due to changes of theology and disciplinary rigor 
in the church's leaders. In either case, we need not credit Hooker 
with prophetic foresight of that disaster in order to expect from him 
a treatment of episcopacy that might have helped avoid it. Whatever 
the balance of historical descent and fresh emergence may have been 
in the causes of the Civil War, prototypes of the opposing positions 
were already before him. It would not be astonishing to find that 
Hooker grasped their implications better than did their proponents. A 
treatment of the question of bishops broad enough in its learning and 
sympathies to take account of these extremes would be as characteristic 
of Hooker as it was rare among his contemporaries and seventeenth- 
century successors. 

ii. Sources 

The chief sources for Book VII are the Bible and the ancient 
Fathers, councils, and historians of the church. The Corpus juris civilis 
of Justinian is cited some thirty times, the canon law five times. 
References to a characteristically wide range of classical, medieval, and 
contemporary sources complete the account. 

The crucial biblical texts are (1) passages from Acts, various Epistles 
(including those addressed to Timothy and Titus, the direct Pauline 
authorship of which is now contested; see 3:157.s.n, below), and 

"The question ... is whether, by the 1620s, the episcopate had reached a 
plateau of social and political acceptability and some effectiveness, in a Church 
enjoying equilibrium, which Archbishop Laud's divisive and unpopular policies 
destroyed in the following fifteen years; or whether on the contrary the Church 
which Laud inherited and strove to redeem had already been betrayed by an effete 
episcopate, the puppets of a corrupt and corrupting Court"; Collinson, The Religion 
of Protestants, p. 42. 



Revelation bearing on authority in the early church; (2) gospel passag- 
es alleged by the Puritans as forbidding all lordship and dominion 
among Christ's ministers; and (3) Old Testament passages on the 
wealth due priests and high priests in God's behalf. 

The church Fathers cited most frequently are Cyprian, Jerome, and 
Ignatius (twenty-seven, twenty-two, and eleven citations, respectively); 
then Chrysostom (eight references, a majority of them to Palladius's 
Life), Tertullian, Epiphanius, and Augustine (seven citations each). 
There are occasional references to a number of other early Christian 
authors: Irenaeus, Lactantius, Athanasius, Gregory Nazianzus, Egesip- 
pus, Ambrose, and Pseudo- Ambrose. 

Cyprian's strong affirmation of the bishop's role was crucial in the 
Reformation debate over episcopacy. As the testimony of a third-cen- 
tury martyr, Cyprian's statements could not easily be rejected outright 
by opponents of the monarchic episcopate, but with effort they could 
be read as supporting the authority of pastors in their several congrega- 
tions. Each side in the debate thus strove to claim "Cyprian's bishop" 
for itself. 

Jerome, a severe critic of the bishops of his own day and a respect- 
ed, well-informed biblical commentator, provides several pivotal 
passages. Hooker's discussion of one of the most widely quoted of 
these ("let Bishops know that custom, rather then the truth of any Ordinance 
of the Lords maketh them greater then the rest") reveals the most distinctive 
features of his own position (5.8; 3:166.14—15). 

Like most other defenders of episcopacy before 1644, when Ussher 
demonstrated their spuriousness, Hooker accepted as genuine the 
pseudo-Ignatian epistles and interpolations of the Long Rescension, 
texts which add fifth-century hyperbole to the authentic, strongly 
episcopal ecclesiology of this martyred first-century bishop of Antioch. 
Eight of Hooker's eleven citations of Ignatius are from these now 
discredited texts. 

The patristic church's councils provided Hooker with evidence for 
both the antiquity of episcopacy and its further articulation in metro- 

J. Ussher, Polycaq>i et Ignatii epistolae (Oxford: Leonard Lichfield, 1644; Wing P 
2789). J. B. Lightfoot, ed., The Apostolic Fathers, 2 parts in 5 vols. (London and New 
York, 1885-1890; rpr. Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1981), 2.1:231-233. 


Book VII 

politan, primatial, and patriarchal supra-diocescan levels of jurisdiction. 
Nicaea and Antioch are cited seven times each, among a total of 


twenty-seven conciliar references. Hooker used the church histori- 
ans Eusebius (five citations), Socrates, and Theodoret (four citations 
each) to similar effect. In his use of these sources, Hooker was con- 
cerned to fill out his picture of the church's functioning in what he 
regarded as a healthy period of its existence, as well as to establish his 
position on particular disputed points. 

A positive concern was primary in his citations of canon law and of 
Justinian, in whose early sixth-century legal compilations and enact- 
ments Hooker saw reflected a complex Christian society effectively 
guided by legitimate public norms. The documentation of early 
English episcopacy in chapter 1, with references to Sulpicius Severus, 
Bede, and William of Newburgh, has a similarly positive aim. 

A continuity of culture and history through all ages of the church 
and beyond the boundaries of Christianity itself is an important theme 
in every part of the Lawes. Accordingly, in Book VII Hooker uses 
classical, Jewish, and medieval Christian authors not only for rhetorical 

effect but also as sources of historical information and doctrinal argu- 

«. 27 

Among his contemporaries Hooker refers almost exclusively to his 
opponents and to continental Reformers, whose objections to episco- 
pacy he seeks to answer or whose toleration of the office he asks his 
English opponents to respect. The English Roman Catholic Thom- 
as Stapleton, a major antagonist in Book VIII, is quoted once in Book 

Five to councils of the African church, three to the fourth-century compilation 
known as the Apostolic Canons, three to the first Council of Constantinople, and one 
each to the Council of Chalcedon and the Trullan or Quinsext Council. 

He cites Cicero five times, Julianus Pomerius (as Prosper of Aquitaine) three 
times, Livy and Wyclif twice, and more than a score of other authors once each: 
Plato, Virgil, Seneca, Josephus, Tacitus, Statius, Florus, Justinus, Aelius Lampridius, 
Dionysius of Halicarnassus, Julian the Apostate, Hermes Trismegistus, Symmachus, 
Ammianus Marcellinus, Suidas, Rabanus Maurus, Zonaras, Peter of Blois, Thomas 
Aquinas, Marsilius of Padua, and Aeneas Sylvius Piccolomini. 

There are eleven explicit citations of Cartwright and three of Travers. Among 
continental Reformers Calvin is cited three times, Girolamo Zanchi twice, and 
Heinrich Bullinger, Beza, and Francois Hotman once each. 



VII. Hooker cites the French jurist Barnabe Brisson to support his 
claim that those who are wisest in things divine may also be most 
skilful in human affairs. He cites Jewel and William Fulke once 
each. Although Hooker does not cite other establishment apologet- 
ic, he is obviously cognizant of it, particularly Whitgift's Defense of 
1574. The designation of authority and honor as the two major topics 
of Book VII may derive from Saravia. 

Hi. The Argument 

With these sources, Hooker constructs a strong and clear case for 
episcopacy as probably divinely instituted, historically well tested, yet 
not immutably fixed as the only possible legitimate form of church 

The book opens with an anecdote pointing a moral characteristic of 
the Lawes: that social institutions are interdependent, so that radical 
change in any one of them has perilously broad implications. It seems 
that in a certain kingdom (unnamed by Hooker and so far unidenti- 
fied), church reform was thwarted and endless civil strife incited when 
an over-zealous preacher called for the abolition of nobles, lawyers, 
and prelates as necessary for establishing Christ's discipline. In England, 
Hooker observes, only bishops have been attacked thus far, but some 
who now support that attack should fear for their own class. This 
cautionary narrative leads naturally to a comparison of the former 
prosperous condition of bishops with their present embattled state. A 
brief account of episcopacy in England from the earliest times follows, 
anchoring the office historically as the opening anecdote had institu- 
tionally. The time may come, then, when those who complain most 
about bishops will most wish for them. But the ordering of such 
events must be left to providence. 

In the brief second and third chapters Hooker sets the terms and issues 
for the remainder of the book. He states what he takes a bishop to be: 

In a note derived from his Oxford tutor, the moderate Puritan, John Rainolds, 
which also includes references to Marsilius of Padua, Aeneas Sylvius, Wyclif, Calvin, 
and Bullinger; see W. D.J. Cargill Thompson, "The Source of Hooker's Knowledge 
of Marsilius of Padua," The Journal of Ecclesiastical History, 25.1 (January 1974): 75-81. 


Book VII 

A Bishop is a Minister of God, unto whom with permanent con- 
tinuance, there is given not onely power of administring the 
Word and Sacraments, which power other Presbyters have; but 
also a further power to ordain Ecclesiastical persons, and a power 
of Cheifty in Government over Presbyters as well as Lay men, a 
power to be by way of jurisdiction a Pastor even to Pastors 
themselves. (2.3; 3:152.19-25). 

The definition is significant in two respects: it allows Hooker to 
describe the apostles, whose authority in the primitive church was 
acknowledged by all sides in the debate, as themselves being bishops 
and not merely the predecessors of bishops, and it allows him to set 
aside as unessential "variable accidents" the wealth and territorial 
extent of modern bishoprics, matters which were of great importance 
to his opponents. The apostles were bishops "at large." The jurisdic- 
tion of later bishops was contained within some definite local com- 
pass — they were bishops "with restraint." Many sixteenth-century 
parsonages were larger than some bishoprics in the early church, and 
many early bishops were poorer than sundry of the lower clergy in 
later times. Hooker speaks to these differences in chapter 8, on the 
territorial organization of the patristic church, and in seven concluding 
chapters (18—24) on various forms of honor that are owed to bishops, 
but he holds that the essential issue of episcopal authority is indepen- 
dent of such circumstances. The essential question is whether Christ's 
church is "lawfully" governed when some ministers of the word and 
sacraments have "permanent superiority, and ruling power" over others 
(3.1; 3:154.35-155.1). 

Hooker's fourth chapter, on the apostles' government of the church, 
depicts that government as itself episcopal (in the sense he has previ- 
ously defined) and as the historic source of later episcopal authority. 
Evidence that the apostles themselves came in time to exercise their 
governing power "with restraint" — that is, within distinct geographical 
areas — merges with patristic testimonies to the succession of later 
diocesan bishops from the apostles. 

The heart of Hooker's legitimation of episcopal authority is chapter 
5, entitled "The time and cause of instituting every where Bishops with 
restraint." As to time, he accepts collegial, presbyterian governance 



under the general authority of the apostles as having been the norm 
for some part of the apostolic age (although he cites the apostle James's 
authority in Jerusalem as a model for what soon became universal). 
However, he equally accepts the great body of patristic testimony 
indicating that monarchic episcopal authority was established "every 
where" by the end of that period. 

What was the cause of this change? In chapter 4 Hooker had 
spoken simply of the apostles' giving episcopal authority to others, and 
although he followed tradition in regarding Timothy and Titus as the 
first bishops of Ephesus and Crete, he tacitly allowed that in most 
churches the same "episcopal" power was for a time conferred on 
colleges of presbyters. In chapter 5 he suggests several possible explana- 
tions for the universal change to the practice of bestowing such power 
permanently on some one person in each church. Either the apostles 
by themselves decided on such a change, or they decided in consulta- 
tion with the whole church. Either the decision was prompted by 
special divine inspiration beforehand, or it must be considered to have 
had divine approbation afterwards, "being established by them on 
whom the Holy Ghost was powred in so abundant measure for the 
ordering of Christs Church" (5.2; 3:161.11—13). Hooker's own deci- 
sion to leave all of these possibilities open has frustrated more than one 
attempt to enroll him in a particular ecclesiological school. It seems 

Keble noted "a marked distinction" between "the school of Hooker and [the 
divine right school] of Laud, Hammond, and Leslie in the two next generations"; 
(1888), l:lxxxv. A. J. Mason found, on the other hand, that for Hooker, "All doubt 
of the divine origin of episcopacy is over"; The Church of England and Episcopacy 
(Cambridge, 1914), p. 54. "In spite of the apparent discrepancies in the course of 
Hooker's argument, his philosophical treatise provided the high churchmen who 
followed him with a surer basis for their arguments than that provided by their more 
controversial contemporaries"; Beatrice M. Hamilton Thompson, "The Post-Refor- 
mation Episcopate in England, (i) From the Reformation to the Restoration," in 
Kenneth E. Kirk, ed., The Apostolic Ministry (London: Hodder and Stoughton, 1946; 
rpr. 1947; with a new foreword, 1957), p. 429. Norman Sykes found a clear differ- 
ence, "at least in emphasis, if not further, between the earlier and later books Of the 
Laws of Ecclesiastical Polity in respect of episcopacy," but noted that "even in these later 
books the author is content to ascribe to episcopacy apostolic, not dominical, authori- 
ty"; Old Priest and New Presbyter (Cambridge: The University Press, 1956), p. 23. 


Book VII 

apparent, however, that we are indeed presented here with a decision 
and not an incomplete or indecisive apologetic. 

It is not that Hooker did not care about episcopal origins. From the 
tone of his discussion it is clear that the life of the early church inter- 
ested him intensely, and he clearly thought it probable that divine 
inspiration guided the apostles in establishing a polity that was to serve 
the church through the centuries. His refusal to press available sources 
into service for a more absolute and certain doctrine concerning the 
institution of bishops was due in part, no doubt, to a scholar's con- 
science, but it also corresponded with his conception of political 
communities as capable of providing their own laws and structures of 
authority as circumstances required. In this as in other respects, Hook- 
er regarded the church as preeminent among political communities. 
But also here as in other cases, authority is not created from a situation 
in which no authority already exists, nor is there a single type of 
warrant for authority that is both necessary and sufficient for its legiti- 
macy. As regards the institution of bishops in the early church, this 
means that, in Hooker's view, divine inspiration, existing apostolic 
authority, and communal consultation could all contribute to establish- 
ing structures of authority for a church life in which all Christians 
might willingly participate. 

The consensual character which Hooker ascribed to genuine com- 
munity grounds a sympathetic exegesis of Jerome in chapter 5 that at 
least one early reader of Book VII found "dangerous," although recent 

Responding to Sykes, A. L. Peck referred to "Hooker's explicit statement of his belief 
in the divine origin of episcopacy"; Anglicanism and Episcopacy (London: The Faith 
Press, 1958), p. 16. "Certainly in Book VII [Hooker] seems to put forward a more 
'advanced' doctrine of episcopacy than that which might have been expected by the 
reader of the first four books. Nevertheless he says nothing which specifically contra- 
dicts the fundamentals there expounded; in these earlier books he postulates a doctrine 
of the authority of the Church high enough to 'contain' the view of episcopacy later 
advanced. . . . Whether the episcopate is apostolic in origin or not, Hooker makes his 
point that it is subject to the over-riding legislative power of the Church"; B. D. Till, 
"Episcopacy in the Works of the Elizabethan and Caroline Divines," in Kenneth M. 
Carey, ed., The Historic Episcopate in the Fullness of the Church (Westminster: Dacre 
Press, 1954), pp. 63-83; pp. 70-71. And see Sommerville, "An Elizabethan Consen- 
sus," cited above, n. 22. 



studies have considered it a direct consequence of principles laid down 
in earlier books. Jerome had said that bishops should know, "that 
custom, rather then the truth of any Ordinance of the Lords maketh them 
greater then the rest" (quoted 3:166.14-15). Hooker interprets him to 
mean that, although bishops "may avouch with conformity of truth, 
that their Authority hath . . . descended even from the very Apostles 
themselves," yet they "must acknowledge that the Church hath power 
by universal consent upon urgent cause to take it away, if thereunto 
she be constrained through the proud, tyrannical, and unreformable 
dealings of her Bishops" (3:168.7-14). Thus, bishops are amply enti- 
tled to the authority they have traditionally exercised in the church, 
and they do not serve merely at the church's pleasure. Neither, how- 
ever, may they exercise power as they themselves please. The enduring 
authority of the episcopate has essentially depended upon the fact that 
the church "hath found it good and requisite to be so governed" 

In the next three chapters Hooker goes on to specify the manner in 
which episcopacy "with restraint" operated in the early church, 
indicating first what powers bishops had over and above other clergy 
(chap. 6), then how bishops with presbyters governed the churches 
under them (chap. 7), and finally the overall scale of hierarchical 
organization in the patristic period, including the relations of authority 
among bishops themselves (chap. 8). We are presented with an attrac- 
tive picture of a church in which bishops exercised commanding 
authority and were commonly compared with the high priests of the 
Old Testament, with Christ, or with God, and yet governed in a 
cooperative spirit and were themselves subject to correction under the 
broader jurisdictions of metropolitans, primates, and patriarchs. 

Within the limits of the evidence available to him, Hooker was 
unusually sensitive to historical process, both in the church's relation 
to the secular world and in its own internal dynamics. He agreed 
neither with the extreme Reformed view of church history, in which 
a short period of absolute purity was followed by a steep slide to 

See W. D. J. Cargill Thompson, "The Philosopher of the 'Politic Society,' " 
S.R.H., pp. 56-57; rpr. Studies in the Reformation, pp. 181-182; and Sommerville, "An 
Elizabethan Consensus," pp. 183-184; and 3:166. 16-168. 35. n below. 


Book VII 

corruption, nor with the extreme Roman Catholic view, in which a 
papal ecclesiology could be read out of the gospel ("Thou art Peter 
. . ."; Matt. 17:18) as unchangeably necessary to salvation. Nor did he 
offer an alternative image of his own of an immaculate visible church 
somewhere in the past or present. Nevertheless, Hooker does give us 
a sense of the church as a network of communities — local, national, 
ideally international; apostolic, patristic, medieval, recent — which has 
inhabited the world with some effectiveness. Despite external challeng- 
es and internal flaws sometimes requiring significant reformation, the 
church's history has been a positive one. Internal conflict has been an 
important factor in that history but not, Hooker would have us 
believe, the defining factor. Similarly, conflicts with superstition and 
worldliness are always important, but again Hooker will not allow 
them to define the Christian life as one of repudiating or withdrawing 
from the world. The affirmative but not simplistic view of church 
history developed in the first eight chapters is the basis for Hooker's 
affirmative but not worshipful view of bishops as a source of order in 
the church throughout its life. 

It is against this background that Hooker considers various objec- 
tions to episcopal authority in chapters 9-16. He follows Bancroft in 
arguing that the first blanket denial of that authority, by the fourth- 
century presbyter Aerius, was heretical, not because such a denial was 
directly contrary to the faith, but because Aerius falsely claimed that it 
was a part of the faith. Hooker's formulation seems tortured, and the 
suggestion that critics of episcopacy may be heretics is unpleasant, but 
there is a point to be made. It is as serious an error to claim a scriptur- 
al foundation for one's own position when there is none as it is to 
reject the claims of others when they indeed are scripturally warranted. 
This is the connection Hooker draws between Aerius and sixteenth- 
century enemies of episcopal government. They are like Aerius in 
holding that the word of God "alloweth not" any inequality or 
difference between presbyters and bishops. 

In chapter 10 Hooker brings his opponents' arguments for this thesis 
under three headings, to which he responds in turn. 

1. Chapters 11—13 are concerned with the claim that episcopacy is 
anti-scriptural because it is un-scriptural, a mere human invention. 
There is no objection that Hooker considers himself better prepared to 



answer. Aside from his argument earlier in Book VII that episcopal 
authority has a basis in the New Testament church, he can appeal to 
his attack, in Books II— III, on the Puritan refusal to accept as legiti- 
mate anything in church polity not directly endorsed in the Bible. 
Such a refusal is itself unbiblical. Accordingly, the suggestion that 
Christ would have instituted the monarchic episcopate if such an office 
were necessary is not compelling. The experience of dissension in the 
collegially-governed communities of the postulated first phase of the 
primitive church pointed clearly enough to a remedy. 

2. The second branch of objections concerns differences in power 
between contemporary and ancient bishops. Specifically, "the bishops 
that now are" may ordain to the priesthood without asking the 
people's consent and may excommunicate on their own authority 
(chap. 14). They have the power to imprison, and they may hold civil 
office (chap. 15). Hooker does not deny that such differences exist. To 
be sure, he points to a consistent tradition through the centuries of 
requiring episcopal ordination in all normal circumstances for a valid 
sacramental ministry. But his main line of reply to invidious compari- 
sons between present and past bishops relies on his conception of the 
church as a body able to provide for itself by different means in 
different circumstances. This is not to say that all past accretions of 
episcopal power must be effects of due process within the whole 
church in order for us to respect current episcopal authority, nor is it 
to say that officially approved arrangements are always optimal. Hook- 
er's point is that the differences between present and past bishops 
alleged by his opponents as differences of principle — differences that 
would make present-day episcopal authority antichristian or diaboli- 
cal — are nothing of the kind. 

3. Hooker saves for chapter 16 the most fundamental, albeit least 
concrete, objection to clerical inequality: that "domination" among his 
disciples is flatly contrary to Christ's own commandment (Matt. 
20:20-28, Mark 10:35—45). Outcries against lordship and dominion 
were a dominant theme in anti-episcopal polemic from the Admonition 
of 1572 onwards. It is a tribute to the strength of this appeal that 
Hooker has built his own case for hierarchy in the church and an- 
swered the other major objections to episcopacy before directly 
confronting "domination." By this point in his argument, however, he 


Book VII 

has provided a social and historical context in which his own circum- 
stantial exegesis of the key passages gains conviction. Christ was 
foretelling, not prescribing, powerlessness for the apostles; he foretold 
a lack of secular power, not of ecclesiastical authority; and, strictly 
speaking, he said only that the apostles would receive no secular 
power from him, not that they were ineligible to receive it from 
others. Christ's admonition to his apostles therefore leaves room for 
episcopal authority in the church (including the authority exercised by 
the apostles themselves), and room, although it provides no positive 
warrant, for ecclesiastics on due occasion to exercise secular power. 

The second principal part of Book VII (chaps. 17—24) is concerned 
with the "honor" due bishops. The honors at stake are partly symbolic 
(such as title, place, and ornament) and partly material (endowment 
with lands and livings), but they are all visible acknowledgments by 
those who render honor that the episcopal office has been beneficial 
to them. Accordingly, Hooker begins his argument with a consider- 
ation of "What good doth publiquely grow from the Prelacy." His analysis 
of how episcopacy as an institution contributes to the spiritual and 
moral well-being of a national community is not, by modern stan- 
dards, detailed, but it shows a regard for social realities which is 
characteristic of Hooker and quite rare among his controversialist 
contemporaries. On the basis of this analysis and an accounting of 
high-priestly wealth in the Old Testament, made relevant to the new 
dispensation by Paul's comparison of the glory of the two ministries at 
2 Corinthians 3:8, Hooker lays claim in chapters 21—23 to an extraor- 
dinarily high level of wealth for bishops. 

The last and longest chapter of Book VII begins, remarkably 

Hooker's exegesis will not seem wholly convincing to readers who understand 
these passages as mandates for a spirit of love, service, and mutual respect among all 
Christians (or indeed, all people). It is therefore important to recall that the overall 
scheme of Christian discipline envisioned by the Puritans involved at least as much 
coercion as was suffered at the hands of Elizabeth's bishops, for, although the church 
itself might have no coercive authority, it would expect the Christian magistrate to 
enforce its disciplinary judgments with all the power at his (or her) disposal. Hence, 
lack of coercive power of one cleric over others would not have lessened the coercion 
of Christians by other Christians. 



enough, with an extensive indictment of the very bishops whose 
authority and honor Hooker has been defending in the preceding 
twenty-three chapters. Its thesis is that bishoprics should not be de- 
prived of their endowments because of the faults of their incumbents 
and that it is indeed sacrilege to deprive bishops and their successors of 
such goods in order to enrich laymen. While this thesis logically 
demands an acknowledgment that individual bishops do in fact have 
faults, Hooker's cutting account of episcopal shortcomings (§§ 2—15) 
goes well beyond the necessary minimum. Because of its systematic 
character, it is in some ways a more effective indictment than the 
invective and anecdote of much anti-episcopal polemic. 

The chapter continues with reflections on the rarity of true virtue 
in a fallen world and the necessity of reasonable forbearance. In any 
case, God is the owner of ecclesiastical goods. However good or bad 
ecclesiastics are, God should not be deprived of what is His. Hooker 
then suggests more mundane grounds for maintaining episcopal 
wealth. For example, bishoprics have traditionally been the chief 
reward of learning. If they are diminished, the result will be paganism 
and barbarity. The chapter closes with a brief economic history of the 
Christian ministry, beginning with the earliest days, continuing 
through the sometimes excessive prosperity of medieval ecclesiastics to 
the plundering of the church in the sixteenth century, and ending 
with a moving estimate of the current state of the clergy and a plea 
that at least what now remains to them be left untouched. Here, too, 
Hooker is oriented as much towards specific social circumstances as 
abstract theological principle. The bitterness of these closing sections 
and the anguish evident throughout the chapter should help to correct 
any idealized view of the Elizabethan establishment and of Hooker as 
its serene advocate. 

iv. Hooker's Position in the Debate About Episcopacy 

In comparison with his contemporaries, both allies and antagonists, 
Hooker presents a relatively concise yet broadly based account of the 
episcopal office, its history, its theological status, and its appropriateness 
as the center of ecclesiastical polity in his own society. He confines 
himself to major issues and does not pile on proof-texts and authorities 


Book VII 

without limit to prove theses without limit. The points he does make 
are polemically effective one by one, but they also form a coherent 
larger structure. Hooker thus conveys a richer sense of the historical 
and doctrinal contexts of standard disputed issues than previous dispu- 
tants had done and broadens the discussion to address matters others 
had largely ignored, such as the national and international structure of 
the patristic church, the social functions of prelacy, and the severe 
limitations endured or exhibited by contemporary bishops. 

Hooker responds to the opponents of episcopacy by pleading his 
case vigorously, at times with anger and reproach, but it is an expla- 
nation he offers, not a peremptory judgment, and he implicitly con- 
cedes some merits to the opposing side. He engages the Puritans about 
fundamental principles, specifically their contention that, in the ab- 
sence of unequivocal scriptural foundation, episcopacy must be regarded 
as a merely human invention and is therefore entitled to no intrin- 
sically theological respect. Hooker's assertion of probable divine 
inspiration for the institution of bishops in the early church strongly 
challenges the disciplinarians in their scorn for bishops but does not 
attempt to exact from them the veneration merited by an article of 

The ultimate principle of Hooker's argument is the well-being of 
the whole church. While he did not take this to imply democracy, he 
accepted the burden of showing in some detail how an episcopal 
polity had been beneficial to the church in the past and continued to 
be so — albeit imperfectly — in his own day. In presenting the apostolic 
origin and spread of episcopacy as a response to the church's needs 
(whether a divine response or a human response divinely approved), in 
suggesting that acceptance by the church makes an essential contribu- 
tion to the continuing legitimacy of episcopal government, and in 
considering the episcopal office in relation both to other parts of a 
Christian society and to its own current representatives, Hooker did 
not, to be sure, meet his opponents' demands for clerical egalitarian- 
ism. Still, in arguing as he did, he avoided assertions of authority for its 
own sake or on the basis of strained scriptural exegesis or the inertia of 
tradition. Book VII could well claim to be a good-faith attempt to 
resolve authentic doubts about the church's traditional form of gov- 
ernment which might be felt by Christians zealous for a truly apostolic 



church but unable to discern apostolicity in the hierarchy confronting 
them. The book's absence from the public domain in the early seven- 
teenth century is a great pity. 

Hooker's case for episcopacy does not fall into line in an inevitable 
progression from pragmatism to Laudianism. Nor, however, does it 
return to the pre-Saravian view of bishops as crown functionaries with 
an especially long tradition behind them. Hooker accords bishops a 
theologically more secure status than Whitgift had, and he offers a 
richer basis for that status than Bilson's perpetuity. Furthermore, his 
claims for a high level of episcopal endowments, honors, and social 
influence, together with his outcry against clerical poverty and the 
secularism of the age, range him with Bancroft, Saravia, and Bilson in 
the movement from a defensive to an aggressive posture concerning 
the hierarchy's rights to power and privilege. Yet despite the friend- 
ship and example of Saravia, and despite particular debts to him in this 
book, Hooker's position is considerably — and surely intentionally — less 
high than Saravia's in both tone and substance. In terms that became 
current earlier in the twentieth century, Hooker held that bishops 
pertain to the church's bene esse in most circumstances — certainly in 
the circumstances in which he wrote — but not to its esse. In still more 
current terms, his sympathetic exegesis of Jerome on the "customary" 
basis of the episcopal office places him with those who seek authoriza- 
tion for Christian ministry in the whole body of the church. 

This last formulation is at once most adequate and most readily 
misunderstood, for it assumes some conception of what "the whole 
body of the church" is and how it may function, matters on which 
Hooker has a great deal to say that is instructive but not at all current. 
To understand Hooker's account of episcopal authority, we must grasp 
the idea of a Christian society in view of which it was offered. We 
must read Book VII in the context of his earlier, distinctively corpo- 
rate account of religious instruction, prayer, and sacraments in Book 
V, his discussion of the church and its authority in Book III, and his 
locating of human secular and religious norms in the lawful cosmos of 
Book I. An equally necessary requirement for understanding Hooker 
on episcopacy is that we come to terms with his treatment of lay 
ecclesiastical power in Book VIII, to which we now turn. 


Book VIII 

Arthur Stephen McQrade 

In his concluding treatise on the power of ecclesiastical dominion, 
Hooker at once vindicates and transforms the legal basis of the English 
Reformation. His defense of a royal supremacy in religion in this book 
completes the legitimation of established authority begun in Book VI 
and is thus the capstone of the Lawes. Read as Hooker intended, Book 
VIII gathers strength from principles laid down in earlier books and 
brings to light the practical implications of those principles. Hence it 
is the book that best reveals Hooker's significance as a political philos- 
opher, an engaged controversialist, and a theorist of the English 
constitution. It has also been the starting point for more disagreement 
about the coherence of Hooker's thought than all the preceding books 

When Book VIII has not been rejected as inauthentic (along with 
the other posthumous books) or mined to provide support for later 
political positions, it has commonly been lamented as a betrayal of 
Hooker's theological and philosophical principles or simply ignored as 
irrelevant to modern interests, secular or Christian. First printed on the 
initiative of Archbishop Ussher in 1648 during the Civil War, the 
book had not been publicly known in the tense but relatively stable 
earlier situation for which it was written. Its authenticity was cast in 
doubt in 1665 by the account of Puritan vandalism of Hooker's papers 
at his death in Izaak Walton's Life. Nevertheless, Book VIII contribut- 
ed to the Whig or Lockeian interpretation of Hooker prevalent in the 
eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. 

There is no doubt today that the book is genuinely Hooker's, but 
this has only set the stage for criticism of its content. The defense of 

See Textual Introduction, 3:xiii-xxvi, li-lxix, this edn., and Introduction to The 
Three Last Books and Hooker's Autograph Notes, p. 244, above. 



lay governmental control of religious affairs in Book VIII struck some 
readers earlier in the twentieth century as patently inconsistent with 
the traditional Christian natural law principles Hooker had so elo- 
quently set out in the earlier books of the Lawes. Beginning with a 
theological and philosophical position comparable to that of Thomas 
Aquinas, Hooker seemed to end with a rationalist or positivist en- 
dorsement of the dominantly secular political order envisioned in 
Marsilius of Padua's Defender of Peace and carried into effect in the 
modern state. So interpreted, Hooker's political theory is hard to 
assimilate: it is too immersed in the medieval ideal of a unified Chris- 
tian society to seem relevant to current needs, yet too committed to 
government control of religion to be appreciated as an attractive 
account of the past. 

The problem of Hooker's intellectual consistency or moral integrity 
is no longer one of making the later books jibe with the earlier ones. 
Recent studies have drawn attention to a subtle but intense polemical 
engagement evident in earlier parts of the Lawes (especially in the 
Preface but perceptible even in the lofty first book, as well as in the 
attack on disciplinarian principles in Books II— IV), and the basic 
positions of Book VIII have been convincingly grounded in proposi- 
tions advanced earlier. Attention has also been called to Hooker's 
advice to read his work as a unified whole, in which succeeding parts 
are intended to clarify and be supported by prior ones but need not 
recapitulate them (1.2; 1:57.25-33.). As a result, there no longer 
appears to be any change of position in the Lawes from one book to 

Unfortunately for Hooker's reputation, however, the demonstration 
of logical consistency among the parts of his work only poses the 
problem of coherence more sharply as a problem of moral consistency 
or integrity throughout. The impression persists, even among the most 
perceptive readers, that Hooker was above all an eclectic thinker who 

2 Peter Munz, The Place of Hooker in the History of Thought (1952); H. F. Kearney, 
"Richard Hooker: A Reconstruction," Cambridge Journal, 5 (1952): 300-311; both 
discussed in Arthur S. McGrade, "The Coherence of Hooker's Polity: The Books on 
Power," Journal of the History of Ideas, 24 (1963): 163-182. 
See above, p. 236, n. 4. 


Book VIII 

deployed his immense learning to defend a secular-political domina- 
tion of religion equally unattractive from a modern as from a medieval 
point of view. The fact that he was logically and rhetorically adroit 
enough to avoid the simpler contradictions previously charged is small 
comfort. Consideration of the occasion and argument of Book VIII 
must therefore still be a search for coherence. 

i. Occasion 

Book VIII is addressed to those who would assert that, "unto no 
Ciuill Prince or Gouernour there may be given such power of Ecclesiastical 
Dominion as by the Lawes of this Land belongeth unto the Supreme Regent 
thereof" (title; 3:315.3—7). The law principally referred to is the found- 
ing legislation of the Elizabethan religious settlement, the 1559 Act of 
Supremacy, by which "all jurisdiction ecclesiasticall within this realme 
is now annexed to the Imperiall Crown." Like the precedent act of 
the 26th year of Henry VIII, the crucial statute for the first phase of 
the English Reformation, the Elizabethan Supremacy Act was a decla- 
ration of national ecclesiastical independence from what was presented 
as a usurped domination by the bishop of Rome. Although Hooker's 
political thought can fruitfully be compared with that of thinkers not 
involved with this central event of the English sixteenth century, it is 
the break with Rome that provides the best vantage point for seeing 
the political side of the Lawes in its own terms. Hooker's distinctive 
problem as a political theorist was to understand the English crown's 

". . . his theory was more consistent than his recent critics have allowed. On the 
other hand, throughout the Laws, Hooker was continually arguing to a brief, and he 
cannot easily be acquitted of the charge of subordinating his political ideas to the 
needs of the immediate controversy"; W. D.J. Cargill Thompson, "The Philosopher 
of the 'Politic Society,'" S.R.H., p. 12; rpr. Studies in the Reformation, p. 140. Robert 
Eccleshall states as the first major conclusion to emerge from recent Hooker scholar- 
ship that "Hooker was not the detached, judicious observer of conventional historiog- 
raphy but a partisan thinker intent on window-dressing the command structure of 
English society"; "Richard Hooker and the Peculiarities of the English," History of 
Political Thought, 2.1 (January 1981): 63; Eccleshall's is a "confessedly rather reduc- 
tionist account . . . intended to throw down a gauntlet to those who persist in 
adopting a hagiographical approach to Hooker" (ibid.). 



religious authority in a way that resolved conflicts arising from the 
initial anti-papal assertion of that authority. Any perennial significance 
his ideas may have can be understood properly only if this problem is 
appreciated first. 

Among the ways in which the English church's royally-led break 
with Rome was construed, four are especially pertinent to under- 
standing Hooker's situation as he wrote Book VIII. These are pre- 
sented here as abstract positions, not formal party divisions, but they 
chart the range of views which Hooker needed to take into account: 

1. In calling this period the Reformation, we reflect especially the 
viewpoint of clerics and laymen who believed that, under the protec- 
tion of a godly prince, they could now proceed from the abolition of 
medieval idolatry and superstition to a thorough doctrinal, moral, and 
ceremonial renewal of the church. This view came into its own in the 
English church under Edward VI. Under Elizabeth it was especially 
held by those who had spent their exile during Mary's reign in Cal- 
vin's Geneva or who later came under the influence of Geneva. 
Hooker's ironically pejorative use of the term "reformer" is directed 
against less restrained proponents of this position. 

2. Another, equally drastic view — one never professed in the first 
person but widely ascribed to others — was secularist. A break with the 
religious culture of the middle ages was indeed necessary, but not in 
order to retrieve a purer, primitive Christianity. The emphasis, rather, 
was on allowing human energies their natural, worldly fulfillments. In 
this view at its least appealing, royal leadership was of great service in 
expropriating the church's immense wealth for lay consumption. Such 
depredation could justify itself by the reflection that ecclesiastics often 
enough seemed to operate only for worldly interests of their own. 
More attractive aspects of secularism are to be seen in the burgeoning 
of Elizabethan arts and letters, exploration and commerce. The north- 
ern Renaissance was hardly anti-Christian, but neither is the traditional 
contrast between Renaissance and Reformation illusory. Certainly, 
many of those in England who supported the crown in repudiating 

5 For a summary narrative of this settlement, see Introduction to The Preface, pp. 
2-22, above. 


Book VIII 

subjection to Rome were at least equally opposed to being subjected 
to the vigorous spiritual discipline their reformist contemporaries pro- 
posed as a replacement. Reformers and secularists had in common 
their opposition to the old ecclesiastical order and their acceptance of 
the royal supremacy as a means to get rid of it. These common inter- 
ests occasionally led to practical alliances, but the underlying difference 
in values was fundamental. 

3. Not everyone who approved the rejection of papal authority did 
so from a desire for radical changes in the daily practice of religion. 
The most conservative interpretation of the break with Rome compat- 
ible with accepting it was one in which the church could continue 
essentially as it was, except for a change of authority at the top. The 
suggestion that the king had simply replaced the pope as caput ecclesiae 
was made at the highest level under Henry VIII: Archbishop Cranmer 
assured Henry that a king could himself appoint ministers to spiritual 
office, should the continuity of apostolic succession be broken. 
Queen Elizabeth abjured any claims to sacerdotal powers, but her own 
religious policy was rather to protect the church from would-be 
reformers than to aid them in carrying out their agenda. 

4. A lay monarch's claim to supreme authority, even in conserving 
the church, was, however, enough to provoke objections and resis- 
tance from some. The Counter-Reformation, clandestinely led in 
England by Jesuits prepared at English colleges abroad, thus presented 


a fourth, overtly negative attitude towards royal headship. 

Felicity Heal, Of Prelates and Princes, pp. 124-125. Cranmer, Miscellaneous 
Writings and Letters, ed. John Edmund Cox, PS (1846), p. 117. 

In her Royal Injunctions, repeatedly reissued between 1559 and 1600, the 
queen forbade her subjects to give ear to the perverse and malicious suggestion that 
the oath of allegiance tendered to English clerics implied that the crown "may 
challenge authority and power of ministry of divine offices in the Church"; see 
Walter Howard Frere, ed., Visitation Articles and Injunctions of the Period of the Reforma- 
tion (London, 1910), 3:26. Her active role in maintaining the moderate reformation 
of the church is emphasized by Haugaard, Elizabeth and the English Reformation. 

The history of a distinct "English Catholic Community" beginning in 1570 with 
Elizabeth's excommunication by Pius V has been traced by John Bossy, The English 
Catholic Community 1570-1850 (New York: Oxford University Press, 1976). On the 
oscillations in attitude towards the English government within this community, see 



Roughly speaking, later descriptions of the Church of England as 
both Catholic and Reformed, or as representing a via media between 
Rome and Geneva, combine the third and first positions. The increas- 
ingly questioned contrast between Puritan and "Anglican" assumes a 
sharper distinction between zealots for reform and supporters of royal 
ecclesiastical authority than actually seems to have existed. It is impor- 
tant to bear in mind that for Hooker proponents of all four positions 
were, if baptized subjects of the queen, members of the Church of 

The destructive passions aroused by more purely doctrinal religious 
differences in the sixteenth century would have been disturbing 
enough even if there had been consensus about a framework of 
authority within which such differences might be adjudicated. Unfor- 
tunately, the traditional authorities of Scripture, ecclesiastical hierarchy, 
and Christian ruler were all themselves involved in those disagree- 
ments. None could serve as an uncontested basis for resolving them. 
Thus, the discovery that English clerics (and by extension laymen, in 
so far as they were obedient to the church) were not wholly his 
subjects under the late medieval dispensation was proclaimed by Henry 
VIII as a theologically offensive situation, not simply a politically 
intractable one. Accordingly, the Henrician Supremacy Act restored 
the crown's "ancient jurisdiction ecclesiastical." The language here and 
in Stephen Gardiner's De vera obedientia, the official apology for 
Henry's break with Rome, is in the tradition of theocratic kingship: 
God appoints the king to rule over his subjects and to care for their 
souls as well as their temporal existence. Indeed, almost without 
exception, every defense of the royal supremacy offered from the 
Reformation Parliament until Hooker's Book VIII was an appeal to 
this presumed divine appointment of the king, an appeal theologically 

Peter Holmes, Resistance and Compromise: The Political Thought of the Elizabethan 
Catholics (Cambridge: The University Press, 1982). Also see Christopher Haigh, "The 
Continuity of Catholicism in the English Reformation" in Christopher Haigh, ed., 
The English Reformation Revised (Cambridge: The University Press, 1987), pp. 176-208. 
Stephani Winton. episcopi De vera obedienta oratio (London: T. Bertheletus, 1535; 
STC 11584), translated by John Bale (?) ([London? John Day,] 1553; STC 11586); ed. 
Pierre Janelle, Obedience in Church and State (Cambridge, 1930). 


Book VIII 

supported by reference to Old Testament models and rendered popu- 
lar by its refusal of all subjection to a foreign power. The political 
history of the Reformation was not neutral background to an essen- 
tially separate spiritual process, but itself bore spiritual meaning. Con- 
versely, the period's spiritual warfare about biblical interpretation and 
ecclesiastical authority had momentous political implications, ranging 
from the coercive imposition of Roman Catholic or Protestant belief 
to the overthrow of established royal authority by assassination, insur- 
rection, or invasion. 

The most obvious occasion for Hooker's own defense of the su- 
premacy was provided by quite similar objections to it coming from 
the first and fourth of the positions sketched above, the reformist and 
the Roman Catholic. Cartwright, Travers, and the disciplinarian party, 
Hooker's most direct adversaries throughout the Lawes, were heirs to 
a Protestant tradition in which the godly prince might play a decisive 
role in seeing that the church was reformed and in protecting a 
reformation once achieved. But this tradition did not grant secular 
rulers a continuing directive role in church affairs. Accordingly, at the 
beginning of Elizabeth's reign, when reformers could hope that the 
queen herself favored further reformation, there was no impulse to 
question her control of episcopal appointments and other means by 
which change could be effected. As queen and bishops became mani- 
fest obstacles to a more thorough reformation, however, men like 
John Field, the probable author of the first Admonition to the Parliament 
of 1572, Thomas Cartwright, who took up the cause against Whitgift's 
Answere to the Admonition, and Walter Travers, Hooker's antagonist at 
the Temple, sought to derive from Scripture a system of ecclesiastical 
government that was essentially complete without reference to the 
Christian lay ruler. In their scheme, church government was to be 
based on a combination of clerical direction and lay participation at 
the local level. The church might occasionally need a secular protec- 
tor, and it would expect assistance in enforcing its own discipline. 
What it did not need was a "head," an earthly supreme governor 
other than Christ. On the contrary, lay rulers should themselves be 
subject to the scepter of Christ's discipline. Accordingly, in a marked 
reversal of their usual sources of support, disciplinarian Puritans 
appealed to bishops of the patristic church (especially Ambrose) to 



justify an independent ministry capable of resisting or even disciplining 
emperors and princes, while Hooker argued that these examples had 
no general relevance. 

The disciplinarians thus arrived at a point from which Roman 
Catholic objections to the supremacy had been lodged from the 
beginning. The common theme was the necessary autonomy of a 
divinely grounded spiritual authority. Whether the church was strug- 
gling among pagans or flourishing in a Christian kingdom, it had its 
own structures of government, subject to no other. Besides differing 
with the reformers as to what those permanently valid independent 
structures were, Roman Catholic writers also had a greater tendency 
than the Puritans to focus on the spiritual incompetence of parliament 
as well as the monarch. It is particularly against William Cardinal 
Allen's objection, that parliament has no more right to legislate for 
religion than it has to make laws for the angels, that Hooker directs his 
most impressive statement of parliament's authority. Concern with the 
Roman Catholic position is a distinctive feature of Book VIII. It goes 
well beyond the defense of particular prerogatives claimed by the 
English crown and helps shape Hooker's account of the fundamental 
relationships between secular and religious community. 

Although less salient than the explicitly reformist and Roman 
Catholic theological challenges to the supremacy, the problems posed 
by the naturalistic or secularist currents of the age were equally impor- 
tant to Hooker. The fact that he himself has been accused of subordi- 
nating grace to nature suggests — accurately — that he sought a con- 
ception of political authority in which natural human capabilities were 
not dominated by arbitrary or mysterious theological dictates imposed 
either from abroad or by domestic religious authorities standing above 
the political community. It is no favor to Hooker to ignore the main 
contention of Book VIII, that a "power of ecclesiastical dominion" 
may legitimately be exercised by the supreme civil authority in a 
Christian society. At the same time, we must recall the anxiety Hook- 
er has expressed earlier in the Lawes (notably at V.2) about irreligious, 

10 A Christian Letter (4:11.10-14.9, this edn.). Munz, The Place of Hooker in the 
History of Thought. 


Book VIII 

politically manipulative forms of secularism. We might expect him to 
resist the coercive imposition of religious values on an unwilling 
community — the rule of the saints or of the prelates, assisted in either 
case by the secular authorities — but we should also be alert for efforts 
to counter the use of religion for secular ends. If we reflect that 
Hooker's central achievement in Book V was to make a case for the 
religion of the Prayer Book on its merits, not as a statutory obligation, 
we should expect to find in Book VIII a treatment of political authori- 
ty which guards against use of the established church as a spiritual 
facade for state oppression or national self-satisfaction. 

Such reflection also leads to a somewhat surprising conclusion with 
respect to the third position outlined above, the conception of the 
supremacy as a way of maintaining continuity with Christian tradition 
while changing from papal to royal authority at the church's summit. 
Book V of the Lawes gives us every reason to believe that Hooker 
genuinely approved of a set of public religious practices which owed 
more for their continued existence to Queen Elizabeth than to any 
other person or persons in the latter half of the sixteenth century. 
The religion thus preserved was indeed reformed. At the end of Book 
IV, Hooker gives Henry VIII credit for "beheading superstition" and 
making a way to "repaire the decayes" of the English church. His 
praise is yet more extravagant for Henry's son and successor, "Edward 
the Saint." Yet the point of this eulogy of reforming sovereigns is not 
to laud reformation per se but to distinguish two kinds of reformation, 
"this moderate kind, which the church of England hath taken" and 
"that other more extreme and rigorous which certaine Churches 
elsewhere have better liked" (IV.14.6-7; 1:343.1-3, 15-18). Hooker's 
greatest gratitude, then, is for Elizabeth, whose refusal to allow a more 
extreme reformation was the chief cause of his controversy with the 
Puritans. He takes the queen's preservation from every kind of immi- 
nent danger and from "practises so manie so bloudie" as a manifest 
sign of divine protection. He was not speaking of architecture when 

"If the leaders of the sixteenth century were to be arranged according to their 
influence on the eventual character of anglicanism, the first rank would include only 
two figures: the martyred cleric, Thomas Cranmer, and the royal laywoman, Elizabeth 
Tudor"; Haugaard, Elizabeth and the English Reformation, p. 341. 



he later ascribed to Elizabeth the preservation of every church still 
standing in the realm of England (V.Ded.10; 2:7.22-28). 

Hooker's aversion to the rabid anti-Romanism of the day and his 
espousal of a comprehensive, nonconfessional, liturgically-centered 
public religion show a sympathy with the queen's spiritual temper as 
it appears to us that goes beyond mere formal loyalty. No doubt 
Hooker had a greater appreciation of the theology of the Reformation 
than Elizabeth, 12 and no doubt his principles would have disposed 
him to make the best of a different religious settlement, for he insisted 
that a national church had extensive power to alter its practices as it 
judged fit. Nevertheless, on the evidence of Book V, it would seem 
that Hooker cherished the Elizabethan church's public worship as 
excellent for its own time and not to be changed without serious 
consideration. Accordingly, in her desire to reestablish the church in 
something like its condition at the end of her father's reign and 
maintain it in that state, Elizabeth was for Hooker a true godly 



If Hooker was truly devoted to the Elizabethan church, which had 
been providentially given its distinctive character by the exercise of 
royal power, then we should expect to find in Book VIII an attempt 
to consolidate this settlement of religion, not only against attacks upon 
royal power but also against precipitous changes of policy by succeed- 
ing rulers. This reading of Hooker's intentions suggests a certain 
similarity of constitutionalist outlook with his antagonists on the 
matter of supremacy. Like his reformist and Roman Catholic oppo- 
nents, Hooker had a stake in providing a sufficiently independent 
standing for the church to enable it to resist undesirable changes, even 
should these be moved by the crown, whose previous actions, in 
contrast with his opponents, he approved. 

12 On Hooker's debt to Calvin (as well as to the previous Catholic tradition), see 
Introduction to Commentary, § ii, this edn., 5:630-634. 

13 The queen, in Francis Bacon's words, "Within the compass of one year ... did 
so establish and settle all matters belonging to the church, as she departed not one 
hair's breadth from them to the end of her life," cited by Haugaard, Elizabeth and the 
English Reformation, p. 217, and above, p. 12 and n. 18. 

14 Hooker's concern with stabilizing the religious settlement against alteration by 


Book VIII 

If conflicting responses to the break with Rome formed the chief 
external occasion for Hooker's treatment of supreme spiritual power in 
Book VIII, the previous course of his own argument placed certain 
internal constraints on his discussion. First, since he had appealed 
throughout the Lawes to the authority of the whole church over its 
individual members as a basis for exacting obedience from his oppo- 
nents, it was incumbent upon him to expound the royal supremacy in 
a way consistent with that earlier appeal. This would also fill a large 
gap in the argument of Whitgift, who had simply asserted the authori- 
ty of "the church" in things indifferent and made the Christian prince 
the locus of that authority but without explaining how church and 
prince were connected. Second, Hooker needed to provide an account 
of royal ecclesiastical jurisdiction in harmony with what he had said in 
Book VII about the authority of bishops. The alliance of divine-right 
bishops with divine-right kings was to produce a structure of authority 
of overbearing weight in the following two reigns. If it is correct to 
read Hooker as having been at least ambivalent about granting immu- 
table, divinely sanctioned authority to bishops, we may expect a 
similar attitude to be reflected in his treatment of royal authority. A 
third internal constraint has to do with the ruling idea of law. Hooker 
had set out to defend the laws of the English church, not the "deal- 
ings" of the imperfect men who administered them (II. 1.1; 1:144.1— 
21; VII. 24. 1—15), and his definition of law was peculiar in not making 
imposition by a superior an essential feature of law. It would be a 
mockery of this conception to make the church's life depend on the 
arbitrary will of a supreme monarch. 

The problem of coherence for Book VIII is, then, indeed, a prob- 
lem of assessing the compatibility of Hooker's endorsement of the 
royal supremacy with his deeper principled commitments. But it is also 
a problem of assessing Hooker's success in providing a conception of 
supreme religious authority that could reasonably be expected to 

later monarchs is hinted at by the reflection in his working notes (3:504.24-29) on a 
passage from Xenophon's Cyropaideia comparing good rulers with good fathers: what 
if our parents were "extreme unnaturall" towards us? 

15 See above, pp. 322-323 and 328-330, and below, 3:166.16-168.35.n. 
1.3.1 (1:63.6-14); see Introduction to Book I, pp. 97-99, above. 



preserve — or, better, strengthen — the coherence of the still Christian 
society in which he lived. He himself could still say that every mem- 
ber of the English commonwealth was also a member of the English 
church, but this was only because he had an exceptionally inclusive 
conception of church membership. In a period when English Prot- 
estants and Catholics wrote tracts denouncing each other as worse than 
Turks, when the archbishop of Canterbury had earned his doctorate 
with the thesis that "the pope is the Antichrist" and was prepared 
to impose the profession of Calvin's doctrine of predestination as a 
condition for teaching theology at an English university, when the 
presumed heresy of the Elizabethan religious settlement was deemed 
sufficient cause for a pope to excommunicate the queen and absolve 
her subjects of their allegiance and for a most Catholic king to dis- 


patch an invasion fleet against her realm, and when a broadening 
spectrum of Protestant sectarians found it difficult to acknowledge the 
bare Christianity of an official church which in their view tolerated 
gross superstition and immorality — in such a period the integrity of 
England as a single religious community was at best fragile. 

Such spiritual integrity as modern secular states enjoy depends on 
mutual respect for the religious beliefs and practices of others as 
personal commitments. To the extent that politics has always in fact 
been a matter of accommodating personal preferences, the modern 
approach can claim the advantage of realism. Aside, however, from the 
danger of such an approach itself becoming a religion, this arrangement 

17 See III.l (1:194-206). "What distinguishes Hooker's doctrine of the church 
from that of almost all his Protestant contemporaries is his extremely comprehensive 
definition of the membership of the visible church"; Cargill Thompson, "The Phi- 
losopher of the 'Politic Society,'" S.R.H., p. 54; rpr. Studies in the Reformation, p. 178. 
"Papa est Me antichristus," "Biographical Memoir," Whitgift, Works, PS (1853), 
3:vi. The identification was a common one. See Kathrine R. Firth, The Apocalyptic 
Tradition in Reformation Britain 1 530-1645 (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1979); 
Peter Lake, "The Significance of the Elizabethan Identification of the Pope as 
Antichrist," Journal of Ecclesiastical History, 31 (1980): 161-178; Anthony Milton, 
Catholic and Reformed: The Roman and Protestant Churches in English Protestant Thought, 
1600-1640 (Cambridge: The University Press, forthcoming). 

19 H. C. Porter, Reformation and Reaction in Tudor Cambridge (1958), pp. 364-390. 
See Introduction to The Preface, pp. 7, 10, 22-23, above. 


Book VIII 

would have struck Hooker and most of his contemporaries as ignoring 
a chief value of public life, the common worship of God. Accordingly, 
Hooker drew on the sources available to him to fashion an argument 
saving traditional Christian social coherence. The task required more, 
however, than reinvocation of the traditional ideology of theocratic 
kingship. In Hooker's judgment it required development of a neo- 
Aristotelian theory of political community and a constitutionalist 
reinterpretation of English ecclesiastical autonomy. 

ii. Sources 

Hooker draws on an impressive array of sources in treating the royal 
supremacy, a topic that, despite its importance, had been the subject of 
relatively little original thought during the English Reformation. 
Stephen Gardiner, bishop of Winchester under Henry VIII, had 
asserted the unity of English church and commonwealth in virtue of 
their identical memberships. He thus provided an unacknowledged 
source for the most widely quoted passage in Book VIII (1.2; 3:319. 
15—27). Gardiner also asserted a divine basis for royal authority, a 
traditional idea which, as we shall see, Hooker greatly modified. In 
this Hooker departed from his predecessors much farther than is com- 
monly recognized. He may well have drawn inspiration from Thomas 
Starkey, who defended the break from Rome as being made on the 
basis of "common counsell and authorite" or "the consent of the hole 
congregation" and who at one point asserted the right of "a hole 
congregacyon and perfyte, as this is of our nation, to electe and chose 
theym a heed polytike with free libertye, whiche may with his hyghe 
wysedome directe and redresse all suche thynges as pertayne unto 
christian poly eye," but, aside from Starkey, a biblically grounded 
respect for kingly authority as such was the dominant theme in Tudor 

An exhortation to the people, instructynge theym to unitie and obedience (1540? STC 
23236), sigs. Z2 V , L2 V , Zl v . Starkey pioneered the eirenic treatment of most changes 
in the early stages of the break with Rome as things indifferent, and his ideal of 
spiritual and civil community as integrally related and mutually reinforcing is very 
much in Hooker's spirit; see W. Gordon Zeeveld, Foundations of Tudor Policy (Cam- 
bridge, Mass., 1948), pp. 128-156. 



apologetic both early and late. In his Defense of the Aunswere Whit- 
gift asserted the Christian prince's control of the external government 
of the church, in contrast with Christ's internal rule by grace, but he 
offered no particular justification for this royal power, nor did he 
discuss limitations on its exercise. The high episcopalian tracts of the 
early 1590s by Saravia, Bilson, and Bancroft, discreetly avoided 
discussing the relationship between episcopal and royal authority, and 
they had no occasion to consider wider aspects of the latter. As noted 
above (p. 316), Sir Francis Knollys, a privy councillor through most of 
Elizabeth's reign, objected strenuously to Whitgift's disciplinary actions 
against the Puritans and to other assertions of episcopal authority. He 

22 For early statements of the king's divine appointment as head of the church and 
his responsibility to care for the spiritual needs of his subjects, ideas which were 
"taken for granted, as much in Elizabeth's reign as in the reigns of her father and 
brother," Cargill Thompson cites Stephen Gardiner, Thomas Cranmer, Richard 
Sampson, and Edward Fox; S.R.H., p. 52; rpr. Studies in the Reformation, p. 177. See 
Gardiner, De vera obedientia oratio (n. 9, p. 344, above); Thomas Cranmer, Speech at 
the Coronation of Edward VI, in Cranmer's Miscellaneous Writings and Letters, PS, pp. 
126-127; Sampson, Oratio, qua docet, anglos, regiae dignitati ut obediant ([1535?]; STC 
21681), rpr. in John Strype, Ecclesiastical Memoriab (1822), 1.2:162-175; Fox, Opus 
eximium de vera differentia regiae potestatis et ecclesiasticae (1534; STC 11218), trans. The 
true dyfferens betwen y regall power and the ecclesiasticall power (1548; STC 11220). See 
also Christopher Saint German, A treaty se conceminge the power of the clergie, and the lawes 
of the realme (1535? STC 21588), sigs. A2-7 r , F4 r . For other elements in early Tudor 
political thought, see Franklin Le van Baumer, The Early Tudor Theory of Kingship 
(New Haven, 1940). 

For later statements, see Jewel, Apologie (STC 14591) and Defence of the Apologie 
(STC 14601); Alexander Nowell, The Reproufe of M. Dorman (1566; STC 18742); 
Robert Home, An answeare made by Rob. bishoppe of Wynchester, to a booke entituled, 
The declaration ofsuche scruples, touchinge the othe of supremacy, as J. Fekenham, by wrytinge 
did deliver (1566; STC 13818); John Bridges, The Supremacie of Christian Princes (1573, 
STC 3737); John Rainolds, The Summe of the Conference betwene J. Rainoldes and J. 
Hart: touching the head and the faith of the church (1584; STC 20626); Matthew Sutcliffe, 
De presbyterio, ejusque nova in ecclesia Christiana politeia (1591; STC 23458), pp. 30—44, 
97-110, 154-155, and A Treatise of Ecclesiasticall Discipline . . . Newly corrected and 
amended (1591; STC 23472). 

23 Hadrian Saravia, De diversis ministrorum evangelii gradibus (1590; STC 21746; 
trans. Of the Diverse Degrees of the Ministers of the Gospel, 1591; STC 21749); Thomas 
Bilson, The Perpetual Covemement of Christes Church (1593; STC 3065); Richard 
Bancroft, Daungerous Positions and Proceedings (1593; STC 1344) and A Suruay of the 
Pretended Holy Discipline (1593; STC 1352). 


Book VIII 

regarded these as threats to the queen's supremacy and urged that 
bishops be required to acknowledge that all their authority derived 
from her. As Hooker commented in one of his working notes for 
Book VIII, "For the kings supremacy as it excludeth forrein persons 
divers have written. But little hitherto hath bene particularly and of 
purpose set down in defence of the said supremacy as it respecteth 
persons at home" (3:496.7—10). No apologist for the English estab- 
lishment is expressly cited by Hooker, although Sir Thomas Smith is 
closely paraphrased at VIII.6.11 (3:401.22-28). 

Hooker's chief texts for refutation in Book VIII are Cartwright's 
Second Replie and Rest of the Second Replie, works never answered by 
Whitgift. Dudley Fenner and John Penry are cited twice each, as 
opponents, and Beza twice, for support. Bishop Jewel and Dean 
Nowell of Saint Paul's are reinterpreted, after being cited by Fenner to 
support the reformers' position on the crown's liability to clerical 
censure. There are two allusions to Anabaptists and a passing reference 
to the followers of the English separatist Robert Browne. 

English Catholic objections to the supremacy are commonly traced 
back to Thomas More and Bishop John Fisher in the reign of Henry 
VIII. Hooker's one reference to More in the Lawes is at 4.12 (3:380. 
14—17). His quotation of More's objection to a lay head of the church 
is taken from an early account of More's speech after his conviction 
for refusing the Henrician supremacy oath. The tradition of English 
Catholic protest was continued under Elizabeth in works published 

The chief exception is Saravia's De imperandi authoritate, et christiana obedientia 
(1593; STC 21747), which, although principally directed against the "forrein persons" 
of the papacy, includes (at 3.33) an account of the integrated character of civil and 
religious ends similar in some respects to Hooker's Lawes, VIII. 1. The royal absolutism 
insisted upon by Saravia later in the work (bk. 4) is, however, greatly at odds with 
Hooker's ideas. See J. P. Sommerville, "Richard Hooker, Hadrian Saravia, and the 
Advent of the Divine Right of Kings," History of Political Thought, 4 (1983): 229-246. 
Bilson's The True Difference betweene Christian Subjection and Unchristian Rebellion (1585; 
STC 3071), another work directed against the Roman Catholic challenge, also 
includes material relevant to Hooker's concerns in Book VIII. See especially the 
discussion at pp. 520-525 of the problem of dealing with an incompetent or evil 

See 3:380. 14-17.n; also, P. G. Stanwood and Laetitia Yeandle, "Richard 
Hooker's Use of Thomas More," Moreana, 35 (September 1972): 5—16. 



abroad and in the clandestine Jesuit mission, in which more than a 
hundred priests died by the end of the reign. Hooker makes extensive 
use of the Principiorum jidei doctrinalium demonstratio methodica of the 
immensely learned Roman Catholic apologist Thomas Stapleton, 
and he cites as well William Cardinal Allen, director of the Jesuit 
mission, on the separation of church and commonwealth, using Allen 
as a foil in arguing for the competence of parliament to legislate on 

Hooker notes in passing the anti-conciliar views of such late scho- 
lastics as Cajetan, Domingo de Soto, and Juan de Torquemada. (He 
must thus have had at least an indirect acquaintance with the corpo- 
ratist doctrines of their opponents; see 3:386. 25-387. l.x.n) He draws 
on Albertus Pighius and on the papal historian Onuphrius (and on the 
twelfth-century pro-imperial bishop of Naumberg, Waleran) to sup- 
port royal investiture of bishops, taking issue on this subject with 
another papal historian, Platina. Aquinas is cited approvingly on 
natural law and the need for human law derived from it. He is closely 
paraphrased in a passage on the need for a universal mover concerned 
with the common good. In considering a passage cited by Stapleton 
from a biblical commentary incorrectly ascribed to Thomas, Hooker 
reproves the author for "a little overflowing of witt" in deducing the 
superiority of Christian sacerdotal authority to royal power from the 
contrasting phrases "Kingly priesthood" in 1 Peter and "priestly King- 
dome" in Exodus 19 (3:356.7-13.« and n). 

Stepping back from claims and counterclaims by parties involved in 
the issues at hand, we find Hooker citing, or replying to his oppo- 
nents' citations of, the Bible, the Fathers and historians of the early 
church, classical philosophical and literary works, various legal sources, 
and several contemporary political works not concerned with English 

The Old Testament provided establishment apologists with the 
clearest authoritative models for royal supremacy, and Hooker availed 
himself of this resource at several points, though less emphatically than 

26 See 3:343.4-9. e.n for Hooker's transcriptions of Stapleton's excerpts of Protes- 
tant and patristic views of the lay ruler's authority in matters of religion. 


Book VIII 

had his predecessors. New Testament texts on Christ's headship are 
central in chapter 4, where Hooker discusses the monarch's title as 
head of the church. The account in Acts of the Council of Jerusalem, 
alleged by others to show that ecclesiastical laws are properly made by 
the clergy alone, is considered in chapter 6. Responding to Stapleton, 
Hooker compares the religious authority appropriate for kings in 
Judaism and Christianity in chapter 3.5. 

In contrast with his situation in justifying episcopacy in Book VII, 
Hooker is himself on the defensive at some points in Book VIII vis-a- 
vis patristic sources. The Fathers and historians of the early church 
were brought forward by both Roman Catholics and Puritans to 
justify a sharp distinction between church and commonwealth, and 
some celebrated incidents from the career of Ambrose provided 
examples of outright clerical resistance to lay domination (see p. 314 
and n. 10, above). On other matters, Hooker found patristic sources 
more helpful. Tertuilian's willingness to call the emperor "lord" (if the 
term was properly understood) suggests that "head," properly under- 
stood, is not an inordinate title for a Christian king. The active role of 
Christian emperors in papal elections and the convocation of church 
councils also provides support for royal supremacy. 

Hooker's important opening discussion of politics and religion is 
supported by references to Aristotle's Politics. At several points in Book 
VIII and in the Autograph Notes, he quotes from a group of pseudo- 
Pythagorean political treatises preserved by Stobaeus and sometimes 
printed with the Politics. These treatises, which present a philosophy of 
absolute, quasi-divine rulership influential in the Hellenistic period, are 
in some cases used by Hooker to precisely opposite effect, to support 
the rule of law (see especially the use of Archytas at 342.5-14). In 
chapter 6 he cites in passing a famous passage on natural law from 
Cicero (preserved by Lactantius), and he quotes Cicero twice else- 
where, as well as Homer, Plato, Polybius, Livy (twice), and Dionysius 
Halicarnassus for various incidental purposes. 

Legal sources cited in Book VIII range from canon law and the 
Roman civil law of Justinian, through the exposition of English 
common law traditionally attributed to the thirteenth-century jurist 
Henry de Bracton, to English statutes and contemporary legal com- 
mentary. In an important statement of the legislative competence of 



parliament, Hooker closely follows a passage in his older contempo- 
rary, Sir Thomas Smith. Like Smith, Hooker includes the king in his 
concept of parliament. Unlike Smith, he also includes the clerical 
delegates and bishops assembled in convocation. Hooker's use of 
Bracton in Book VIII and in the portion of the Autograph Notes 
bearing on Book VI seems intended to elevate the rule of law to the 
status of a constitutional principle. In appealing to Bracton for this 
purpose, Hooker anticipates Coke. Hooker's concern with legal 
sources in Book VIII and elsewhere in the Lawes (and most strikingly 
in the Autograph Notes) is distinctive among apologists of his period 
and must reflect his years as master of the Temple. 

Hooker's cosmopolitanism, also distinctive, is indicated by his use of 
a range of contemporary works not directly concerned with English 
affairs and by his translation of a passage on English relations with the 
papacy from Machiavelli's History of Florence. The list of sixteenth-cen- 
tury French jurists given in chapter 7.5 (3:417.26-28) to support lay 
investiture of bishops could well have been furnished by a legal spe- 
cialist, but elsewhere (3:507—511) he takes his own notes from one of 
these authors, Rene Chopin. 

Hooker discusses at some length the radical assertion put forward in 
the French Vindiciae contra tyrannos that every legitimate monarchy is 
actually or virtually elective. Although he is at pains to distance himself 
from this position, it is not clear how firm a basis his own principles 
afford for such opposition. His one reference to the famous French 
exponent of absolute sovereignty, Jean Bodin, is to an uncharacteristic 
passage in which the obligation to obey a sovereign fails to apply — the 
case of a foreign visitor in relation to the ruler of a territory. Hooker 
nowhere mentions the fourteenth-century anti-papal political philoso- 
pher Marsilius of Padua in Book VIII, as he does (in a reference 
derived from John Rainolds) in Book VII (3:208.1 7. h and n). The 

2 Besides Bracton, Hooker must also have had in mind other traditional English 
encomia of the rule of law, especially chapters 9-18 of the late fifteenth-century De 
laudibus legum Anglie of Sir John Fortescue, first edition 1545-1546, reprinted in 1567 
with translation by Robert Mulcaster as A learned commendation of the politique lawes of 
Englande (STC 11194), fols. 25 r -41 r ; ed. and trans. S. B. Chrimes (Cambridge, 1942), 
pp. 24-43. And see nn to 3:332.19-24 and 435. w. 


Book VIII 

likelihood of Marsilian influence must, however, be taken into ac- 
count in any assessment of Hooker's arguments. Nearly three centuries 
after his death, Marsilius remained the leading theorist of record for 
unified lay control over human affairs of the present life. The ques- 
tion of Hooker's relation to thinkers such as Marsilius and Bodin, like 
that of Locke's relation to Hooker, goes beyond the documentation of 
explicit borrowings. 

Many of the sources cited in Book VIII are familiar from previous 
controversialists; others are unusual. In some cases the great range of 
Hooker's references ornaments a brief which he was resolved to argue, 
but elsewhere fresh sources have been sought out as a basis for fresh 

Hi. The Argument 

1. Identity of Church and Political Community 

The formal argument of Book VIII begins with a brief declaration 
in chapter 2 of what the power of ecclesiastical dominion is and a 
more detailed explanation in chapter 3 of the manner in which Chris- 
tian princes may legitimately exercise such power. Preceding this is a 
lengthy "admonition concerning mens judgments about the question of regall 
power" (chap. 1). The theme of this admonition is the identity of 
church and commonwealth in an independent body of Christians. 

See Harry S. Stout, "Marsilius of Padua and the Henrician Reformation," 
Church History, 43 (1974): 308-318. Marsilius's secularism (in something like the 
modern sense) was not publicly acceptable in Reformation political debate, but as the 
only well-articulated late medieval defense of lay political supremacy, the Defensor pads 
was singularly relevant to the sixteenth-century situation. Marsilius's systematic use of 
Aristotle and his concern for unity of coercive jurisdiction would have made his work 
of special interest to Hooker. I am grateful to Alan Gewirth for pointing out to me 
in personal correspondence the particular Marsilian parallels indicated below in nn to 
3:350.2-10, 390.23-24, and 403.10-404.5, and for suggesting an indebtedness to 
Marsilius in Hooker's many references to consent. Also see C. W. Previte-Orton, 
"Marsilius of Padua," Proceedings of the British Academy, 21 (1935): 163—166. 

Hooker's initial title for the chapter, "Of the distinction of the church and the 
commonwelth in a christian kingdome" (Autograph Notes, 3:495.14—15), suggests 



To understand the ensuing defense of the English royal supremacy, it 
is essential to grasp both what is traditional and what is distinctive in 
Hooker's exposition of this theme. 

Identity of Membership: Early in chapter 1 , Hooker offers a traditional 
argument for the identity of English church and commonwealth, 
found in Gardiner's De vera obedientia. Church and commonwealth are 
one because their memberships are the same: everyone who belongs to 
the Church of England belongs to the Commonwealth of England and 
vice versa. Hence, although this body of people may be called a 
church for one reason and a commonwealth for another, they are in 
fact one body of people. As a way of stating the central problem con- 
fronting all sixteenth-century political writers, Bishop Gardiner's line of 
thinking can hardly be bettered. Western Europeans were overwhelm- 
ingly Christians. Overwhelmingly they were accustomed to regard 
their Christian faith and that of their neighbors as a necessary condi- 
tion for moral probity and social trustworthiness. Government there- 
fore inevitably had to deal with both the religious and secular exis- 
tence of the same individuals. 

Unfortunately, while the identical memberships of commonwealths 
and churches posed the crucial problem for political "and" religious 
thinkers of the time, it did not dictate a single solution to that prob- 
lem. The Tudor contention had been that, since Englishmen were 
naturally subjects of the king as head of the realm, they must also be 
subject to him in their religious identities. But the medieval dualism of 
regnum and sacerdotium could just as well support the opposite argu- 
ment: since all Christians were obviously subject to ecclesiastical 
authority in spiritual matters, they also ought to be subject to such 

more clearly than the title he eventually adopted the importance of this chapter, 
although not the direction of its argument, which is towards identity rather than 

"Seing the church of England consisteth of the same sortes of people at this 
day, that are comprised in this word (Realm) of whom the king is called the head: 
shal he not being called the head of the Realm of England, be also the head of the 
same men, when thei are named the church of England?", De vera obedientia . . . nowe 
translated into english (1553), fol. 18 v ; ed. Janelle, Obedience in Church and State (1930), 
p. 93. 


Book VIII 

authority in temporal matters. The appeal the argument in this direc- 
tion had for Roman Catholic writers is obvious. Whether they held 
the pope's temporal power to be direct or only indirect, they could 
not doubt that where human affairs demanded a single supreme 
authority this function could only be served by the supreme pontiff. 

The need to resolve conflicts between competing supreme authori- 
ties was less obvious in relation to Hooker's other direct antagonists in 
Book VIII, the Puritans, but in principle the problem was the same. A 
Christian must live under the headship of Christ. A valid system of 
ecclesiastical discipline could not ultimately be subordinate to any 
authority except the Word of God. And yet the Bible itself dictated 
that subjects should obey the king. It did not help matters that each 
side in this three-sided debate between theocratic kingship, papalism, 
and disciplinarianism could allege divine warrant, biblical precedent, 
and ecclesiastical tradition to support its claims. The problem posed by 
the identity of church and commonwealth could be solved only if 
there could be found a more fruitful way of understanding not merely 
that, but how, religious and civil community were one. 

Identity of Aim: Hooker's other main argument in chapter 1, adapted 
from Aristotle's Politics, seeks to provide such an understanding. Its 
premise is that the end of political association is not merely life but 
living well. As Hooker explicates this premise later in the chapter (also 
with references to Aristotle), it implies that first priority in a political 
body should be given to distinctively human personal or psychological 
goods — goods of the soul. More specifically, the highest priority 
should be given to religion, since religion is the chief good of the soul. 
If the care of religion falls within the scope of political association in 
general (if "every politic society doth care for some religion"), then 
the property differentiating a church from other independent associa- 
tions is not religion per se but the profession of a particular religion, 
the true religion, Christianity. A church, then, is a distinct species of 
the genus body politic, differentiated from other members of the genus 
by its fundamentally correct orientation to the highest aim of all 
human association. 

The idea of a hierarchy of human goods was, of course, not new. 
What Hooker adds to the Reformation debate about supreme religious 
and political authority is, first, an emphasis on the community as the 



active party seeking the good life. The higher goods, including reli- 
gion, are not merely good for a ruler's subjects and thus a respon- 
sibility of the ruler. They fall within the scope and intention of the 
community itself. Not "every ruler," but every body politic cares for 
some religion, the church for true religion. A second distinctive contri- 
bution of equal importance is Hooker's inclusion of religion among 
the inherent purposes of any full-fledged human community. The basis 
for supposing that religion may appropriately be subject to political 
control thus has nothing to do with a particular religious viewpoint, 
let alone a positive jure diuino title to civil or religious authority. 
Instead, the argument is that a society must make provision for what 
it values, for what it takes to be the good life. The power of ecclesias- 
tical dominion, as Hooker presents it, is a Christian society's capacity 
to care for the Christian religion. The royal supremacy is an instru- 
ment through which that care may conveniently be exercised. But this 
is to get ahead of the argument, for the discussion of church and 
commonwealth in chapter 1 by no means implies that control of a 

society's religious practices is automatically a proper task of govern- 

.. 31 

If we take Hooker at his comprehensive word, then we must say 

that for him the whole body of English Christians was the English 

Hooker's assertion that "every politic society doth care for some religion" may 
seem to say the opposite (namely, that controlling religion is necessarily and always a 
proper task of government), but this is not the case. Although he believed that 
consensus in religion sufficient to support public religious institutions was normal, 
Hooker was vividly aware that religious consensus could break down, in which case 
there would be no basis for committing authority in religious matters to a civil prince 
or governor. 

Hooker explicitly recognized absence of consensus as the situation of the pre-Con- 
stantinian Roman Empire. In that situation or in the situation of Christians living 
among non-Christians in later times, church and commonwealth are certainly not 
identical, and a civil ruler's authority in ecclesiastical matters is unacceptable. Hooker 
argued that when "whole Rome" became Christian, the authority pagan emperors 
had enjoyed in pagan religion could legitimately be exercised by Christian rulers in 
Christian affairs. Legitimate governmental authority in a society's religion requires, 
however, that the society have a religion. The failure, or possible failure, of this 
presupposition was not confined to remote cases. Hooker correctly feared that 
Christian consensus was in process of breaking down in his own England. 


Book VIII 

church and that the problem of institutional religious authority was, 
inescapably, their problem. In Aristotelian terms, the problem was one 
of associating for the good life, for the purpose of living well together. 
This entailed agreeing on laws and institutions (including a disposition 
of supreme ecclesiastical power) which corresponded to a commonly 
professed Christian faith and which English Christians could acknowl- 
edge as their own. This formulation of Hooker's task in defining 
and defending the royal supremacy should not be taken to imply a 
commitment to democracy on his part, but his conception of the 
problem assuredly challenges absolutist views of authority, whether 
medieval and theocratic or modern and secular. 

2. The Power of Ecclesiastical Dominion and its Limits 

On the basis of new evidence from Hooker's Autograph Notes, the 
present edition places the division between chapters 2 and 3 of Book 
VIII at an earlier point than in previous editions (see 3:lxxii— lxxiii). 
We now know that Hooker intended his short statement of " What 
their power of Dominion is" to stand alone as chapter 2, and that chapter 
3 was to cover all of five subordinate topics: "By what right, after what 
sort, in what measure, with what conveniency, and according to what 
example Christian Kings may have it. In a word, their maner of holding 
Dominion." The most obvious effect of adopting this arrangement is to 
make more apparent the corroborative rather than probative status of 
the Old Testament examples adduced under the last of the five listed 
subheadings. In some earlier editions, including Keble's, Hooker's 

Addressing the Puritan demand for exemption (pending a public disputation) 
from regulations of which they disapproved, Hooker had argued at the beginning of 
the Lawes: 

A lawe is the deed of the whole bodie politike, whereof if ye judge your selves to be any 
part, then is the law even your deed also. And were it reason in things of this qualitie 
to give men audience pleading for the overthrow of that which their own verie deed hath 
ratified? Lawes that have bene approved may be (no man doubteth) again repealed, and 
to that end also disputed against, by the authors therof themselves. But this is when the 
whole doth deliberate what lawes each part shal observe, and not when a part refuseth the 
lawes which the whole hath orderly agreed upon. (Pref. 5.2; 1:27.33—28.8) 



discussion of the first four topics had been placed in chapter 2, and the 
biblical discussion printed by itself as chapter 3. The division of chap- 
ters dictated by the Autograph Notes makes clear, however (as has 
always been clear from careful reading of the text), that the argument 
from Scripture is not central to Hooker's case for the supremacy. 
Adopting Hooker's intended division has a still more significant effect 
at the other end of the restructuring. Chapter 2, now quite short (the 
first two sections of Keble's long chapter), becomes more prominent. 
In particular, three qualifications or limitations included by Hooker in his 
general conception of ecclesiastical supremacy emerge as positive 
points of the argument. It thus becomes plain from his opening 
declaration of what the English crown's power of ecclesiastical domin- 
ion is that Hooker will defend a supremacy subordinate to: God, the 
law, and the body politic. These three qualifications are an excellent 
guide to major themes in the rest of the book. Given the unfinished 
condition of our text, we shall do well to take advantage of such 
guidance. Accordingly, in place of a detailed analysis of the remaining 
chapters of Book VIII in sequence, the balance of this introduction 
will be devoted primarily to tracing the three limitations of a human 
religious supremacy stated by Hooker in chapter 2 and developed in 
various later contexts. 

The Royal Supremacy Qualified in Relation to God: "When therfor 
Christian Kings are said to have spirituall dominion or supreeme 
power in Ecclesiasticall affaires and causes," Hooker tells us, "the 
meaning is, that within their own precinctes and territories they have 
authoritie and power to command even in matters of Christian Reli- 
gion, and that there is no higher, nor greater, that can in those causes 
overcommand them, where they are placed to raigne as Kings." This 
is the positive content in Hooker's statement of what the power of 
ecclesiastical dominion is. He proceeds immediately to qualify what he 
has said: "But withall we must likewise note, that their power is 
termed supremacie as being the highest not simplie without exception 
of any thing. For what man is there so brainsick as not to except in 
such speeches God himself, the king of all the kinges of the earth?" 
(chap. 2; 3:332.9—19). This first and most briefly stated exception may 
seem only a formality, but it points to the most trying substantive 
issues between defenders of the supremacy and their Protestant and 
Roman Catholic critics. 


Book VIII 

In the context of modern political theory, the most important point 
about Hooker's view of the relationship between God and an ecclesi- 
astically supreme ruler is negative: royal supremacy is not a divine 
mandate. This is the chief point of the section immediately following 
the one just quoted, 3.1 (2.4—6 in Keble): "By what right namely such as 
though men doe give God doth ratijie." In a deservedly often-quoted 
passage, Hooker answers his own question as to the right by which 
Christian kings may exercise authority in religion in this way: 

As for supreme power in Ecclesiasticall afiayres, the word of 
God doth no where appoint, that all kinges should have it, 
neither that any should not have it. For which cause it seemeth 
to stand altogether by humane right, that unto Christian Kings 
there is such dominion given. (3:335.5—9) 

It would be extravagant to suggest that Hooker regarded the standard 
jure divino defense of the supremacy as a case of "brainsickness." The 
tradition of theocratic kingship accepted the moral subordination of 
rulers to God and foretold especially severe divine punishment for 
those who abused their high position. In chapter 9 Hooker will avail 
himself of this part of the tradition in expounding the view that 
princes are accountable for their actions to divine judgment alone, not 
to their subjects, and in the present chapter there is a positive emphasis 
on God's approval of royal authority, on the crown as a power dele- 
gated by God, and on kings as God's lieutenants. Yet Hooker stops 
significantly short of divinizing either the basis or the nature of royal 
authority. Normally, it is society's choice of a ruler which God ratifies. 
Only "lawfull" choices are so approved, just as the authority of 
conquerors is approved by God only if they are victorious in "just and 
lawfull" wars. Nor does Hooker think that the principles of justice, 
reasonableness, or divine law are so mysterious as to be accessible only 
through a divinely appointed royal interpreter. As he will say in 
discussing legislation in chapter 6 (a discussion parallel to his treatment 
of government in chapter 3), the laws of nature and God "make 
manifest" not only what God requires for personal salvation but also 
the necessary requirements of social life (3:389.8-21). The ruler's mere 
humanity is set off by this framework of natural reasonableness and 
publicly accessible divine revelation. Hooker also contrasts, explicitly, 
the natural, human origin of ordinary governmental authority and the 



"speciall appointment" by which it often pleased God to name rulers 
in Old Testament times. 

From a theological standpoint, Hooker's most significant discussion 
of the relation of supreme human authority to God comes in chapter 
4, where, responding to Cartwright's insistence that Christ is the sole 
head of the church, he distinguishes between Christ's headship and the 
king's. Hooker could have avoided this confrontation by pointing 
out, as Jewel had done, that the title "head of the church" claimed by 
Henry VIII was not used by the queen, who styled herself "supreme 
governor." He instead provides a treatise on the differences of 
"order, measure, and kind" between the headship of Christ and that 
of the king. The differences are more than formal. 

Hooker's thesis with respect to the first of these, the difference of 
"order," is that all earthly authority is "subordinated" to the power of 
Christ. This thesis has, to be sure, an anti-Puritan side. Cartwright had 
contended that the magistrate is subject to Christ as the eternal son of 
God, equal with God the Father, whereas the church's ministry is 
directly subject to Christ as mediator between God and man, subordi- 
nate to the Father. In this view, magistrates could claim a direct link 
with divinity, and the church could imitate Christ and the apostles in 
rendering obedience to earthly authorities in their proper secular 
domain. At the same time, however, the distinctive direct relationship 

This chapter is accordingly central in W. J. Torrance Kirby's distinctively 
theological study, Richard Hooker's Doctrine of the Royal Supremacy (Leiden: E. J. Brill, 
1990). See especially chapter 4, "Supremum Caput: Hooker's Theology of Headship," 
pp. 92-125. 

Jewel, Defence of the Apologie, 6.11.1: "For, first, wee divised it [the title of 
head] not: Secondly, wee use it not: Thirdly, our Princes at this present claime it 
not"; (1570), p. 704; Works, PS, 4:974. But in the same section Jewel concedes that, 
"notwithstandinge the name of Heade of the Churche belonge peculiarly, and onely 
unto Christe, as his onely Righte, and Enheritance . . . yet maie the same sommetimes 
also be applied in sober meaninge, and good sense, not onely unto Princes, but also 
unto others, far inferiour unto Princes"; (1570), p. 705; Works, PS, 4:975. For a more 
emphatic rejection of the term "head" by a defender of Elizabeth's governorship of 
the church, see Alexander Nowell, The Reproufe of M. Dortnan, fols. 125-126 r , where 
Bishop Gardiner is accused of contriving this title for the royal supremacy to arouse 
hostility to it. See 3:356. 19. n, below. 


Book VIII 

asserted by Cartwright between the Christian ministry and the Christ 
of the gospels epitomized the independence from the magistrate that 
disciplinarians sought for the church in spiritual matters. Hooker's 
insistence that all power on earth, civil as well as ecclesiastical, is 
rightfully subject to the same Christ Jesus is thus a rejection of an 
essentially dualistic view of temporal and spiritual authorities as coordi- 
nate supreme powers. The subordination of the king to Christ was 
hence equally a "superordination" of royal power over a competing 
power in the ministry. Hooker's subordination of the king to Christ 
was also what it professed to be, however — a way of putting royal 
authority in its place, as accountable not only to an eternal, transcend- 
ent divinity but to the Christ of the gospels. In this respect, Hooker's 
subordinationism, far from being anti-Puritan, was an attempt to 
emphasize the same commitment of political institutions to Christiani- 
ty that had traditionally been sought in the demand that the secular 
arm, the Christian magistrate, carry out the policies of ecclesiastical 

The second difference between Christ's headship and the king's, the 
difference of "measure," is a straightforward one, although objections 
and replies concerning it lead Hooker to tart remarks on his oppo- 
nents' zoological metaphors of two-headed and headless bodies. He 
asserts that Christ's authority is measureless, without legal limitation or 
limits of space and time, whereas an earthly ruler's headship is limited 
by law and extends no further than to a particular period and territory. 
Again, the king has been put in his place. 

The "last and weightiest difference" is the difference in kind. 
Christ, ruling inwardly by grace, is the source of life, knowledge, and 
direction both for individual Christians and for the church as a com- 
munity, whereas the Christian ruler exercises a purely external and 
instrumental headship. Here Hooker upholds a main plank of Whit- 
gift's apologetic platform. Cartwright had condemned Whitgift for 
purveying the distinction between internal and external government 
"from the Popish shambles" of Pighius and Harding (see 4.8; 3:374. 
15-21). Shrugging off the objection that arguments used by Roman 
Catholics must be bad, Hooker reiterates the need for the sort of 
external direction that only visible authorities can provide. And in a 
notable exposition of the metaphoric sense of "head" (following Plato 



in the Timaeus), he presents Christ's continuing activity as source for 
the inner life of individual Christians and the church as a whole. 

The full force of this and similar passages in Book VIII can only be 
appreciated in conjunction with Hooker's eloquent chapters on 
Incarnation and Sacraments in Book V. References to Christ's inward 
rule by grace could be dismissed as superficial or insincere in a polemi- 
cal work concerned only with the legal titles and rights of external 
authorities. Such references themselves come alive when made in a 
work that elsewhere articulates a heartfelt theology of sacramental 
participation. In such a context — -devotional as much as political — it 
means a great deal to say that the ruler "merely" administers outward 
things. For Hooker, grace is ordinarily received in the setting of a 
Christian community, but it is God who confers grace, not the com- 
munity. Politically sustained outward administration can only be a 
framework within which the vital transactions between the communi- 
ty and its one absolute head can take place. This is also to say that care 
is needed lest the kind of ruling exercised by the prince be exercised 
in the absolute measure appropriate only to Christ. 

The Royal Supremacy Qualified in Relation to Law: "Limiting" or 
"measuring" the spiritual dominion of earthly rulers is precisely the 
function of the second major qualification of their supremacy laid 
down by Hooker in chapter 2: 

Besides, where the lawe doth give Dominion, who doubteth but 
that the king who receiveth it must hold it of and under the lawe 
according to that old Axiome Attribuat Rex Legi quod Lex attribuit 
ei potestatem et Dominium. And againe Rex non debet esse sub nomi- 
ne, sed sub Deo et Lege. (3:332.19-24) 

The theme stated here is developed in the long third section of chap- 
ter 3 (2.11—17 in Keble) and returns in later discussions of ecclesiastical 
legislation and judicial structures (chaps. 6 and 8). Hooker's constitution- 
alism, his emphasis on the rule of law, his use of ringing phrases from 
Bracton (as above) have been acknowledged often enough. What has 
not been generally recognized is the distinctiveness of this advocacy at 
the time when Hooker wrote: its pointedness, its specificity, its 

The tension between Hooker's constitutionalism and the requirements of Tudor 


Book VIII 

complex relation to the existing situation, and the enterprising use of 
sources by which it is sustained. 

After Hooker's death, in the reign of James I, Justice Coke pro- 
claimed the rule of law as a binding principle, not just a happy fact of 
English life. Coke could draw for support on a native tradition of 
praise and respect for law, including aphorisms from the great treatise 
on the laws and customs of England ascribed to Bracton. Spokesmen 
for this tradition were not plentiful under Elizabeth, however, and 
Hooker was alone among churchmen of his day in commending law 
as a restraint on royal power in ecclesiastical affairs. If only because 
of this pointed application of the principle of legal supremacy, it 
would be a mistake to take the exposition of the principle in Book 
VIII for granted. 

Hooker enunciated the rule of law as at least a compelling ideal, and 
in doing so he was not above exploiting sources in which that ideal 
was less dominant than in his own thought. For example, in an exqui- 
site passage on the theme, "Happier that people, whose lawe is their 
King . . . then that whose King is himself their lawe" (3.3; 3:341.25— 
342.1), he quotes the Pythagorean philosopher-mathematician-states- 
man Archytas to excellent effect, except that he omits an immediately 
preceding statement by Archytas that legitimizes the opposite ideal of 

monarchy is, however, proposed by Munz to explain Hooker's presumed failure to 
complete Book VIII, The Place of Hooker in the History of Thought, pp. 107-109. 

This is not to imply that Elizabeth acted as an unrestrained autocrat. She 
evidently wished to deprive Archbishop Grindal of his office, not merely suspend him, 
but was inhibited from doing so by the fact that his appointment had not been "at 
pleasure." Yet this was itself a matter of her own previous choice; see Introduction to 
Book VII, pp. 318-319, above. Early in the reign Nowell had briefly asserted that the 
law of the realm was superior to the prince, "as made not onely by the Prince and his 
authoritie, but also by the whole authoritie and consent of his whole Realme"; The 
Reproufe of M. Dorman, fol. 27 v . A few years later, also in passing, Bridges contrasted 
the tyrant, "whose will is lawe" (such as the pope) with the king, whose will and 
power "ought to be restrayned by law and do nothing unskilfully nor uncomely for 
his estate," but with no implication that a king's actions in violation of such restraints 
are invalid. Bridges explicitly denied that a king may justly be deposed for not ruling 
by law or indeed for any other cause; The Supremacie of Christian Princes (1573; STC 
3737), sigs. 5N3 V , 6K2 rv , 6G2 r . 



an "animate law" embodied in the king. In other citations of the same 
body of Hellenistic political philosophy, he also turns the absolutist 
tenor of these works to his own uses. Hooker's one citation of Bodin, 
is an uncharacteristic passage allowing that a sovereign need not be 
obeyed by foreigners within his domain. Even Bracton must be 
modified, silently or by spirited translation. Thus, in citing Bracton's 
"axioms" on the superiority of law to king, Hooker omits any indica- 
tion that in context Bracton was urging the ruler to accept legal 
limitations voluntarily, following the examples of Christ and Mary, 
who observed the Mosaic law although not bound by it. Bracton's 
similarly rhetorical "Rex nihil potest, nisi quod jure potest" (literally, "the 
king can do nothing except what he can do by law") is rendered by 
Hooker more bluntly as "The Kings graunt of any favour made con- 
trary to law is voyd" (3:342.20-2 1). 37 

In view of the recurrent — and recurrently controverted — perception 
of Tudor rule as despotic, it is important to ask how Hooker's consti- 
tutionalist revision of his sources is related to the legal situation obtain- 
ing when he wrote. Does Hooker merely provide a literary reflection 
of current English practice, or was he attempting to shape existing 
practice or make it more acceptable by redescribing it? In considering 
this complex question, we must note that Hooker's conception of a 
royal ecclesiastical supremacy functioning according to law required, 

37 The authority of Bracton in Elizabeth's reign was much less than his use by 
Coke against James I and in Coke's own systematic exposition of English law might 
lead us to imagine. See D. E. C. Yale, '"Of No Mean Authority': Some Later Uses 
of Bracton," in Morris S. Arnold and others, eds., On the Laws and Customs of 
England: Essays in Honor of Samuel E. Thome (Chapel Hill: The University of North 
Carolina Press, 1981), pp. 385-388. Bractonian axioms cited by Hooker had, howev- 
er, figured provocatively in one of the most famous orations ever delivered in the 
Commons, the plea for free speech in parliamentary debate delivered by Peter 
Wentworth on 8 February 1576. Wentworth argued, disingenuously, that to impute 
to Elizabeth a desire to limit speech in parliament was to pronounce her perjured, for 
she had sworn at her coronation to execute the law, and this entailed respect for the 
free expression of views necessary for the making of law. The speech is given from an 
Inner Temple text in T. E. Hartley, ed., Proceedings in the Parliaments of Elizabeth I, 
1558-1581 (Wilmington: Michael Glazier, 1981), 1:425-434, Bracton at 1:429. For 
context see G. R. Elton, The Parliament of England 1559-1581 (1986), pp. 341-349. 
Coke, it may be remarked, took notes of Hooker's Temple sermons (DNB, Hooker, 
quoting Fuller). 


Book VIII 

not merely a general legal basis for government operations in the area 
of religion — there is no doubt that this was in place — but a detailed 
spelling out, by the law, of how royal authority was to be exercised. 
Law should be a rule for the king in all his proceedings. Not the most 
limited but the best limited power is best, Hooker asserts, and that is 
a power limited by law, not only divine and natural law, but "very 
nationall or municipall law consonant therunto" (3.3; 3:341.24—25). In 
the area of civil jurisdiction, this requirement of specific legal warrant 
for the crown's proceedings was typically well met under Elizabeth, 
although Coke's later controversies about royal prerogative with James 
I and his counsellors show that the course of the law did not forever 
run smoothly even in civil proceedings. In the religious sphere, the 
situation was far less settled. While the traditional system of ecclesiasti- 
cal justice was not abolished at the Reformation, there were persistent 
attacks on the church courts' jurisdiction by the common lawyers. 
Proposals for reform of the system were made, fruitlessly, from the 
ecclesiastical side as well. The supremacy legislation passed by Parlia- 
ment in 1559 gave the crown extensive powers in ecclesiastical affairs. 
Indeed, since "all jurisdiction ecclesiastical" was annexed to the 
crown, the church courts, too, became royal courts. In some cases this 
strengthened their jurisdiction, but only temporarily. Further legal 
uncertainties arose from the introduction of ecclesiastical commissions, 
authorized in general terms by the Supremacy Act but appointed by 
the crown and operating with whatever authority the crown delegated 
to them, sometimes in the face of legal challenges based on the com- 
mon law. 

Under these circumstances, certain passages in Book VIII apparently 
intended to describe the existing state of affairs seem strangely out of 
place. In chapter 3, for example, Hooker "willingly" accommodates 
the patristic dictum that a good ruler is within the church, not above 
it, by asserting that "received" ecclesiastical laws and liberties are limits 
on royal power: 

38 See G. R. Elton, "The Rule of Law in Sixteenth-Century England," Studies in 
Tudor and Stuart Politics and Government (Cambridge: The University Press, 1974- 
1983), 1:260-284. 

39 See Introductions to Book VI, p. 299, and VII, pp. 315-317, above. 



Wherefore in regard of Ecclesiasticall lawes we willingly embrace 
that of Ambrose Imperator bonus intra Ecclesiam, non supra Ecclesiam 
est. Kings have dominion to exercise in Ecclesiasticall causes but 
according to the lawes of the Church. ... in whatsoever spirituall 
businesses for the received lawes and liberties of the Church, the 
King hath supreme authoritie and power but against them none. 
(3.3; 3:347.12-19) 

The same confidently constitutionalist tone informs Hooker's descrip- 
tion of the dual system of English secular and spiritual courts in chap- 
ter 8.9 (3:434.14—435.16). In other passages, however, there are clear 
indications of dissatisfaction with the existing state of church law. Just 
before the endorsement of Ambrose quoted above, Hooker remarks that 

even in these very actions, which are proper unto Dominion there 
must be some certaine rule wherunto Kings in all theire proceed- 
inges ought to be strictly tied, which rule for proceedinges in 
Ecclesiasticall affayres and causes by regall power hath not hitherto 
been agreed upon with so uniforme consent and certaintie as 
might bee wish't. (3.3; 3:346.14-19) 

A more substantial indication of Hooker's unhappy awareness of 
current legal uncertainties is found in the Autograph Notes for Book 
VI of the Lawes, where he compiled material in response to his associ- 
ate Edwin Sandys's observation that the exact jurisdiction of ecclesias- 
tical law was complex, controversial, and much in need of clarification 
(see pp. 238-242, above). 

Our imperfect texts of Books VI and VIII do not rule out the 
possibility that these different passages express views held by Hooker 
at different times — views not necessarily consistent with one another — 
and that further revision would have led to a more straightforward 
position. We should avoid resorting to such an explanation, however, 
if a consistent interpretation is available, especially since two of the 
apparently contrary passages appear within a page of one another. 

The passages can indeed be reconciled, if we are prepared to con- 
sider Hooker himself as something of a reformer. Hooker, it may be 
suggested, knew perfectly well that the ecclesiastical legal system was 
in disarray and that the limits of the crown's power were particularly 


Book VIII 

unclear, but he believed that materials sufficient to repair the system 
existed in the traditional sources of church law: "for the received 
lawes and liberties of the Church, the King hath supreme authoritie and 
power but against them none." The difficulty was that such reasonable 
laws and liberties as had once been received were no longer agreed 
upon as uniformly and certainly as was desirable. Hooker hoped that 
sound research, persuasively presented, might rectify the situation. 
There was a basis in secular as well as ecclesiastical tradition for claim- 
ing that the aim of English polity was to have a system of justice in 
which law was equitable, clear, and supreme. Confident declaration 
that such a system was already legally in effect (as in the enthusiastic 
passage on secular and ecclesiastical courts in chapter 8) might contrib- 
ute to its own truth by promoting the agreement and consent that 
were so obviously needed. 

If the preceding interpretation is correct, then Hooker's constitu- 
tionalist affirmations were not intended, despite their indicative mood, 
as descriptions of existing practice. Rather, they were attempts to 
extend existing law-governed practice more securely from the civil 
sphere to the ecclesiastical. To do this, however, Hooker proclaimed 
the principle of the rule of law in stronger terms than can be found in 
any other Elizabethan author. Here more than anywhere else, he seeks 
to shape the English constitution, not merely to defend it as given. 
Although he was specifically concerned with the supremacy of law in 
ecclesiastical matters, Hooker's endorsement of legality as a general 
principle would have been a significant contribution to early seven- 
teenth-century debates about the sovereignty of law or king — had 
Book VIII been widely known at the time. 

The Royal Supremacy Qualified in Relation to the Community: The 
third "exception" to the term "supremacy" in chapter 2 introduces 
another major theme in Hooker's construal of royal ecclesiastical 

whereas it is not altogether without reason that kinges are judged 
to have by vertue of their dominion although greater power then 
any, yet not then all the states of those societies conjoyned, 
wherein such soveraigne rule is given them, there is not hereunto 
any thing contrarie by us affirmed .... (3:332.24—28) 



Hooker here translates the well known proposition that the king is 
major singulis uniuersis minor. He states the Latin phrase itself to begin 
his discussion in chapter 3 of the "sort" of "human right" on which 
English royal authority is based. Of all the dense and tangled strands in 
Book VIII, this is the densest and most tangled. Nevertheless, 
Hooker's emphasis on the community as both natural source of 
political authority and appropriate major participant in the legislative 
process is on the whole quite clear. His depiction of England near the 
end of the book (chap. 8.9) as an autonomous community is an 
idealization. As in his exposition of the rule of law, so in his account 
of communal authority, Hooker would transform contemporary 
understanding of established institutions in defending them. 

For Hooker, the natural "original" subject of political power is an 
"independent multitude" or "bodie politique." "God creating man- 
kinde did indue it naturally with full power to guide it self in what 
kindes of societies soever it should choose to live" (3.1; 3:334.8—10; 
compare 6.1; 385.19-386.17). This natural original authority of a 
society comprises the power of dominion in general and, as an espe- 
cially important part of that power, legislative authority. Understand- 
ably enough, mankind typically guides itself to "derive" at least some 
of its social power of dominion "into many fewe or one under whom 
the rest shall then live in subjection" (3:334.12—13). Hooker regarded 
such original derivations of power as having some historical reality, but 
he did not think of them as determining the distribution of power in 
a society once and for all. Concerning kings "first instituted by agree- 
ment and composition made with them over whom they raigne," the 
extent of royal power is shown not by "the articles only of compact 
at the first begining" but also by "whatsoever hath been after in free 
and voluntarie manner condescended unto," either by express consent 
or custom (3:340.8—17). Conquerors make their own charters (see 
3:334.13—22; compare 340.3-6), but here, too, change through and 
towards voluntary agreement is possible. 

On Hooker's method of composition, which provides an explanation of the 
repetitions and lack of integration of the various passages on communal authority in 
the surviving manuscripts of Book VIII, see above, Introduction to The Three Last 
Books and Hooker's Autograph Notes, pp. 243-244. 


Book VIII 

By which meanes of after agreement it commeth many times to 
passe in kingdomes, that they whose ancient predecessours were 
by violence and force made subject doe growe even by little and 
little into that most sweete forme of kingly governement which 
Philosophers define to be regencie, willingly susteined and indued 
with cheiftie of power in the greatest thinges. (3.3; 3:340.17—23) 

Normal political situations, then, are marked by voluntariness. The 
state or nature of the kingdom of England, for example, is one "where 
the people are in no subjection but such as willingly themselves have 
condescended unto for their own most behoof and securitie" (3.2; 
3:336.23—25), and if derivations of a society's power of dominion 
work out badly, "it must be presumed that supreme governours will 
not in such case oppose them selves and be stiff in deteyning that, the 
use whereof is with publique detriment" (3:339.22-24). 

Although Hooker thought of the political life of a society as appro- 
priately beginning with free and voluntary "first institutions" and 
continuing with free and voluntary revisions of those institutions, in 
accordance with the society's experience of them, he did not regard 
the derivation of dominion from community to ruler(s) as unilaterally 
revocable at the community's pleasure. If a particular transfer of power 
from the body politic to its governors should prove publicly detrimen- 
tal, and yet the governors refuse to renegotiate the transaction, there 
is no recourse: "surely without their consent I see not how the body 
should be able by any just meanes to helpe it self, saving when Domin- 
ion doth escheate. Such thinges therefore must be thought upon before 
hand, that power may be limited ere it be graunted" (3:339.25-28). 
It would be a mistake to interpret this statement as a prohibition of 
revolution under any circumstances. The passage itself suggests that a 
body politic is entitled to "help it self" if its rulers attempt to exercise 

At one point in the Autograph Notes (3:512.5-8), Hooker refers to "the whole 
state or parliaments power above the crown." This tantalizing note is in contrast with 
his well known description of the English parliament at 6.11 (3:401.22-28) as 
including the crown. For his intention to include in the final chapter of the Lawes a 
general discussion of the possibility of correcting an erring sovereign, see above, 
Introduction to The Three Last Books and Hooker's Autograph Notes, pp. 245-246, 
and below, 3:503. 18-504.2.n. 



powers which they have not been given, and the context provides 
other reasons for a restrained interpretation. But Hooker does take 
transfers of political authority seriously: when one party conveys 
power to another, the second party then actually has that power. 

Power can, however, be limited before it is granted, which is to say 
that not all supreme governors are equally supreme. Siding with 
Aristotle and disagreeing with the pseudo-Pythagorean Ecphantus (and 
implicitly with sixteenth- and seventeenth-century ideas of sovereignty 
descended from such texts), Hooker denies that universality of power 
pertains to the very being of a king. Mankind's power to guide itself 
in whatever kind of society it may choose means that absolute monar- 
chy is a legitimate option. But restricting the range of issues govern- 
ment may deal with (essentially the modern Western disposition as 
concerns religion) is also an option. For Hooker neither of these 
arrangements is ideal: the former, as we have seen, because power can 
be abused; the latter, as he will argue in chapter 3.4, because the 
common good of a society (which includes its religious life) can 
reasonably be achieved only if there is "a generall mover, directing 
unto the common good and framing every mans particuler to it" 
(3:349.18-20). The best way for a community to limit its government, 
therefore, is not by restricting its sphere of operations but by specify- 
ing strictly what it may do in each area. The best limited power is not 
"that which may deale in fewest thinges," but "that which in dealing 
is tyed unto the soundest perfectest and most indifferent rule; which 
rule is the law" (3.3; 3:341.21-23). 

Hooker's emphasis on the rule of law — not only divine and natural 
but also national or municipal law — implies that legislation is properly 
the supreme political act. It is all the more significant, then, that he 
regards legislation as properly the act of the whole community or its 

42 In any but the shortest historical perspective, Hooker could hardly have 
regarded the removal of an errant sovereign as unthinkable. For the constitutional 
significance of the five depositions of English kings which took place between 1300 
and 1500, see Michael Wilks, "Rebellion and Revolution: A Lockeian Theme and 
Pre-Reformation England," in J. van den Berg and P. G. Hoftijzer, eds., Church, 
Change and Revolution, Publications of the Sir Thomas Browne Institute, n.s., 12 
(Leiden, 1991), pp. 4-30. 


Book VIII 

personal representatives. As he observes at the beginning of chapter 6, 
ostensibly a defense of the crown's power in making ecclesiastical laws 
but more nearly an encomium of legislation by consensus, the good or 
bad condition of a society depends so much on the power of making 
laws that "in all well setled States yea though they be Monarchies yet 
diligent care is evermore had that the Commonwealth doe not cleane 
resigne up herself and make over this power wholy into the handes of 
any one" (6.1; 3:385.21—25). There was no place for such "diligence" 
at the time of the Norman conquest, when (as Hooker mistakenly 
believed) King William took the style and title of a conqueror because 
he knew that if he ruled in virtue of his title as heir to the crown he 
could not lawfully change the laws of the land by himself. But Hooker 
regarded subsequent English history as a happily progressive one in 
which subjection by force and violence had grown into regency 
willingly sustained. In the Lawes, he himself did his best to consolidate 
and advance this development by eloquently defending the legislative 
competence of a parliament where "all that within the Land are 
subject unto [the king] are there present either in person, or by such 
as they voluntarily have derived their very personall right unto" (6.11; 

The burden of Hooker's argument for the supremacy of an inclu- 
sively constituted parliament is that it is unjust for part of a society to 
make laws for the rest. It is the assent of the whole community which 
makes a law binding and coercively enforceable. To be sure, one part 
of the community may have special qualifications for working out the 
content of laws in a certain area. Thus, for example, it would be 
unnatural to doubt the special qualifications of the clergy for devising 
and discussing laws concerning a religion of which they are the or- 
dained ministers. But it would be unjust if the clergy could impose the 
results of their deliberations upon the rest of the community as law 
without its consent. Hooker is so emphatic in asserting this principle 
of justice that one is apt to forget both that the whole discussion is 
supposedly limited to the political situation of England and that the 
English parliament had only recently been willing to act against 
Protestant sectaries (see above, pp. 34—37). If he had had in mind the 
short-term advantage of the clerical establishment, he would have 
done better to emphasize crown prerogatives. An ideal of community 



had apparently so gripped him, however, that he was eager to endorse 
his country's most distinctively communal political institution, even 
though that institution had traditionally been weak in supporting his 
own preferred ecclesiastical policies. And he endorsed it as if it provid- 
ed the only morally acceptable way of living together. 

The assessment of Hooker's contribution to modern Whig or liberal 
political thought is beyond the scope of the present introduction. 
Emphasis here on the limits Hooker built into his concept of a royal 
religious supremacy should not be taken to suggest that his thinking 
on such matters was the same as John Locke's (see above, pp. Ill— 
114, and n. 48). It may nevertheless be appropriate to conclude this 
section with a brief but clear statement by Hooker of a community's 
authority over its own public life which, had it been known and taken 
to heart, might have inspired a very different political course from that 
actually taken by English government in the first half of the seven- 
teenth century. Hooker presents this as a description of Elizabethan 
reality, in which he may seem naive, disingenuous, or very subtle. 
However, as a profession of political values by the defender of a strong 
monarchy, it seems notably enlightened: 

The entire communitie giveth generall order by law how all 
thinges publiquely are to be done and the King as the head 
thereof the highest in authoritie over all causeth according to the 
same lawe every particuler to be framed and ordered thereby. 
The whole body politique maketh lawes which lawes give power 
unto the King and the King having bound himself to use according 

There is an apparent ambiguity in Hooker's statements of the conditions under 
which it can be said that "the whole community" has consented to a law. In some 
passages it appears as if the crown's assent represents the community's consent to a 
law; see 6.3, 7; 3:387.10-14, 394.11-16. Elsewhere he seems to suggest that royal 
assent is required for the validity of a law, not in so far as the crown represents the 
community that is to be governed by the law, but because of a further principle of 
justice, that it is unjust to expect a government to enforce a law to which it has not 
assented (6.7; 3:393.13-19). Hooker's conviction that a community cannot prudently 
surrender its inherent legislative power to its rulers argues for the second conception 
of royal assent as Hooker's preference. In either case, Hooker's arguments are 
explicitly directed to guarding the laity from the imposition of coercive laws by the 
clergy. He thus contributed to the liberation, if not the triumph, of the laity. 


Book VIII 

unto lawe that power, it so falleth out that the execution of the 
one is accomplished by the other in most religious and peacable 
sort. (8.9; 3:434.24-435.4) 

3. Particular Prerogatives 

A royal supremacy qualified or limited in the three ways indicated 
in chapter 2 — by a theologically substantive subordination of human 
to divine power, by a constitutionally effective rule of law, and by a 
politically significant emphasis on both original communal authority 
and continuing communal participation in the legislative process — 
hardly seems supreme when compared with the sovereignties elaborat- 
ed by Bodin and Hobbes or claimed by James I. Yet, because the 
sovereign secular state of modern times characteristically leaves spiritual 
matters to the discretion of individuals or private groups, Hooker's 
ascription of ecclesiastical power to the English crown, however 
limited, inevitably impresses modern readers as dangerously authoritari- 
an. A fair understanding of Hooker depends on recognizing that the 
modern political treatment of religion — by neglect — was unavailable 
when he wrote. The perennial need for unity of coercive jurisdic- 
tion^) — the need for that minimal physical order without which there 
is no living in society — could not then be met without directly ad- 
dressing religious conflicts in which great numbers of Christians were 
liable to regard one another as worse than the worst of secular crimi- 
nals. If religion was too explosive to be ignored politically, it was also 
by tradition too engaged with public life to be shifted to a purely 
personal plane, one upon which social and interpersonal conflict 
supposedly should not arise. And beyond the need for order as a 
condition for individual life, the positive possibilities for community in 
a good life Christianly understood also dictated to Hooker that public 
religious authority should be supported as long as the presupposition 
of a single underlying religious commitment within the community 
could plausibly be maintained. Accordingly, although he significantly 
modified the theoretical basis for the crown's supremacy, emphasizing 
its legal and constitutional limits, he nevertheless devoted the last six 
chapters of the last book of the Lawes to defending the particular 
prerogatives of royal religious headship. 



Chapter 4. The Title of Head: To the extent that the title alone was 
at issue, Hooker's argument is simple: since the term "head" is com- 
monly used to signify all sorts of preeminence, there is no reason not 
to apply it to a ruler exercising the authority granted to the English 
crown — assuming, as is argued in the rest of the book, that such 
authority is legitimate. More than the title was at stake, however, for 
Hooker himself was concerned to distinguish between royal authority 
(the thing, not the name) and the power of Christ. Chapter 4 thus 
serves as a bridge between the explicitly general first three chapters and 
the discussions of particulars that follow (see 3:330.20—331.9 and n). 

Chapter 5. The Prerogative of Calling Ecclesiastical Assemblies: This 
topic, too, could have served as occasion for further discussion of basic 
principles, especially if the problems involved in convoking a valid 
ecumenical council had been canvassed. Finding no strong objections 
proposed against English practice, however, Hooker contents himself 
with a brief indication of precedents from the patristic period (many in 
fact bearing on the summoning of general councils) for the authority 
of Christian rulers in this area. 

Chapter 6. The Crown's Power in Making Ecclesiastical Laws: In this 
long and tangled chapter, Hooker approaches the topic of ecclesiastical 
legislation from several angles. It is especially pertinent here to recall 
his method of composition (see above, pp. 243-244) for, although the 
chapter's various sections are all relevant to the proposed topic and 
could be fitted together to form a more continuous and systematic 
treatise, such fitting has not been done in the surviving manuscripts. 
Important subjects treated in this chapter, besides the crucial role of 
communal consent in turning wise and prudent counsels into binding 
laws, include the moral obligation to obey publicly enacted religious 
laws and the question of which religious matters are subject to human 

Chapter 7. Power in Making Ecclesiastical Governors: Hooker begins his 
treatment of the historically controversial topic of lay investiture of 
bishops by rejecting the idea that kings themselves are in some sense 
ordained persons, "not . . . altogether of the laitie." This rejection is in 
keeping with the subordination of human to divine power emphasized 
in chapters 2 and 4, but it may seem politically insignificant in light of 
Hooker's endorsement of the medieval English laws giving the crown 


Book VIII 

coercive control over episcopal elections. However, the history he 
gives of such elections makes clear that, although the electoral role of 
dean and chapter had become a mere formality in England, it had not 
always been so. Further, Hooker's forceful admonition to princes to 
exercise their authority in this matter responsibly (§ 7; 3:419.17— 
420.16) implies that the episcopal office itself is not a creation of the 
ruler. The king's right to "place" bishops, to assign them a body of 
Christians upon whom to exercise authority, and to give them materi- 
al support, has to do partly with the social system. The king appropri- 
ately bestows titles of lay nobility, and bishops are peers of the realm. 
Royal control of episcopal elections also promotes peace and quiet: 
popular elections are liable to be tumultuous (§ 6; 3:418.12—419.17), 
and for "the peacable and quiet practise of their authoritie" upon the 
king's subjects, bishops, too, should be dependent on the king (App. 
4; 3:421.9-11). 

Chapter 8. Power in Ecclesiastical Judgment: This is another untidy 
chapter. In line with his insistence on the king's status as a layperson, 
Hooker is at pains to emphasize that kings lack the personal qualifica- 
tions required in ecclesiastical judges. Thus, the power of ordinary 
judges "is in themselves, and belongeth unto the nature of their 
Ecclesiasticall calling" (§ 3; 3:424.12—13). He rejects the imputation that 
English monarchs believe they are qualified to decide religious causes 
themselves (§ 1; 3:421.26—422.11), and he distinguishes the king's 
personal qualifications from the authority of the crown (§ 7; 3:429.7— 
430.18). There is need, however, for a universally binding authority in 
a legally consistent community (§ 4; 3:424.19—26) — an authority that 
can, if necessary, reform and redress the operations of inferior jurisdic- 
tions (§§ 4-6; 3:425.4-427.5, etc.). It is at the end of this chapter that 
we find Hooker's appealing description of the English legal system as 
one in which the community declares by law what shall be done and 
the king by law executes its decisions accordingly. 

Chapter 9. Exemption from Judicial Kinds of Punishment by the Clergy: 
Book VIII begins with a cameo of Old Testament kings exercising 
supremacy over the religious affairs of the people of Israel. It ends with 
a guarded discussion of two fourth-century emperors being disciplined 
by Christian bishops. Hooker contends that the circumstances of these 
latter encounters were so exceptional as to offer no support for the 



claim to a regular judicial superiority of ecclesiastics over secular rulers. 
Even in the unfinished form in which the chapter has come down to 
us, he is careful to restrict the scope of his own conclusion. His 
purpose is "not to oppugne any save only that which Reformers hold." 
That is, he wants to argue only against treating the queen of England 
as if she were an ordinary member of a parish church. The Autograph 
Notes show that, in addition to attacking an extreme disciplinarian 
position (which was hardly in the forefront of Puritan demands), 
Hooker intended in this concluding chapter of the Lawes to "open" 
the "reasons of each opinion" on the greatest question in constitu- 
tional theory: whether and how supreme rulers may be subjected to 
effective human judgment. He clearly meant this to be a substantial 
discussion. It is a consummate misfortune that our imperfect ver- 
sion of Book VIII is lacking at just this point. 

iv. The Adequacy of Hooker's Idea of a Christian Society 

Hooker has been difficult to place in the history of thought. This is 
due partly to his comprehensiveness, the range of sources and ideas 
appearing in his work. Anticipations of Lockeian consent theory and 
legislative supremacy share the page with invocations of reverence for 
rulers as God's lieutenants, and any side of the argument is likely to be 
buttressed with biblical, classical, medieval, or contemporary citations 
representing a deliberately wide range of positions. Accordingly, 
various well-documented but narrow and contradictory readings of 
Hooker have been advanced, or, if a broader view is sometimes taken, 
he has seemed to be a learned eclectic using all available materials to 
bolster the authority of an arbitrarily established regime. 

The interpretation offered here takes Hooker's comprehensiveness 
as central to a logically and morally coherent intention to transform 
the Elizabethan political establishment in the course of justifying it. In 
this reading, Hooker sought to describe and promote an establishment 
that could serve both the minimal communal end of "life" by preserving 
order in a population of early modern English Christians who were 

44 See above, Introduction to The Three Last Books and Hooker's Autograph 
Notes, pp. 245-246, and 3:503. 18-504.2.n, below. 


Book VIII 

deeply at odds about basic features of their Christianity and also serve 
the higher aim of a communal "living well" by functioning, under 
law, as executive agent of the whole body of Christian society. 

In relation to the conflicting understandings of the Tudor break 
with Rome that posed the central political problem for Hooker in the 
Lawes, the outstanding feature of Book VIII is the extent to which it 
places responsibility for resolving conflict on the community to which 
the contending parties still belonged. A supremacy based on the 
traditional ideology of theocratic kingship demanded a loyalty to lay 
religious leadership too much at odds with equally traditional ideas of 
clerical authority to be acceptable to Roman Catholics and a church 
too dependent on the monarch's zeal for discipline to be acceptable to 
Puritans. Furthermore, in its implicit absolutism such a supremacy 
risked subjecting religion to the arbitrary impulses of rulers isolated 
from the life and needs of their subjects. In his eloquent comparisons 
of England with the kingdom of Israel and in the grandeur of his 
language throughout the book, Hooker preserved the elements of 
majesty and of personal responsibility to God that were so important 
to the traditional image of a king. However, by placing both original 
and continuing authority for law in the whole community of English 
Christians, Hooker offered to opposing segments of the community a 
lasting opportunity to sue for broader acceptance of their views. He 
demanded obedience to English law, but the lawfulness of that law — 
and the legitimacy of a religious establishment sanctioned by it — 
required that the whole community be the source of its coercive 
authority. Hooker himself was happy with the main features of the 
Elizabethan religious settlement and did not wish either for further 
reform in the services of the church or for a return to Rome. Never- 
theless, the acceptance of a presbyterian discipline or papal supremacy 
(or indeed, toleration of diversity) was theoretically possible within the 
framework constructed in Book VIII, if the whole body politic could 
agree on one or another such course. In the meantime, existing laws 
against those dispensations must be obeyed. At a time when the 
conditions for community among English Christians were fragile, 
Hooker's work was a call to acknowledge such community of faith 
and moral values as did exist and to take responsibility for preserving 
and enhancing it. 

Hooker's emphasis on the community as responsible and active in 



"caring for" the good life also left room for the expression of secular 
values. While his advocacy of communal authority was obviously not 
meant to lessen the influence of religion, he rejected as unjust the 
claim of ecclesiastics to impose religious obligations on the laity 
without their consent. Hooker had harsh words for the culture of his 
time ("this present age full of tongue and weake of braine," "this 
golden age" in which only wealth can preserve bishops from con- 
tempt), but his favorable attitude towards human reason, his love of 
philosophy, his sense of the potentialities of education (1.6.3; 1:75.27— 
76.3) all suggest active sympathy with Renaissance assertions of the 
dignity of human nature. 

The strength of Hooker's position in relation to Catholicism, re- 
forming Protestantism, and secularism lies in its capacity for including 
all parts of the community in legislative decisions concerning the 
community and its insistence that the crown, the "generall mover" 
framing everyone's particular good within the universal or common 
good, operate in accordance with those communal decisions. It would 
be anachronistic to think of Hooker as an eighteenth-century aposde 
of toleration, eager to give every religious or anti-religious opinion 
equal room for expression. Nevertheless, the breadth of sympathy 
often noted as a trait of his temperament is also embodied in his effort 
to ground English law in a process by which "the entire communitie 
giveth generall order . . . how all thinges publiquely are to be done." 

Because of its inclusiveness, Hooker's account of supreme political 
authority is progressive in the long term but in the short term conser- 
vative. His conception of England as an autonomous Christian com- 
munity justified the national church's momentous break with the 
papacy, and his account of English institutions gave content to the idea 
of action by the whole church that allowed for further, orderly 
change. In relation to his own attachment to the existing religious 
settlement, however, the strength of his political position lay in its 
conservative elements. Hooker's emphasis on the rule of law, his 
apparent intention to urge new respect for previously accepted church 
law, and the very requirement for broad communal representation in 
legislation that held open the possibility of orderly long-term change 
all militated against easy alteration of the religion of the Elizabethan 
Prayer Book. In relation to this spiritual ethos, which he valued 


Book VIII 

especially for its suitability to the character and needs of a whole 
people, Hooker's principal aim was to consolidate a precious 

With respect, then, to the conflicts that occasioned it, Hooker's 
comprehensive treatment of the royal supremacy had much to com- 
mend it. It was, and it vigorously professed to be, a defense of legally 
established authority, but the understanding of authority it proposed 
was one that offered hope of preserving and enhancing the Christian 
society that was Hooker's deepest concern, the key to his moral 
integrity and to the coherence of his work. Making allowances for the 
unfinished state in which Book VIII has come down to us, we must 
credit Hooker with more than erudition and eloquence. He saw the 
divisions and divisiveness of his situation more clearly, and in his 
political program he preserved common spiritual values more effective- 
ly and more humanely than any of his contemporaries. That he should 
have accomplished this by elaborating constitutionalist ideas that later 
centuries have come to regard as the finest part of the Western politi- 
cal tradition entitles him to a further measure of respect. It is at this 
point, however, that the problem of placing or assimilating Hooker 
becomes most severe. 

The opening Introduction in this volume began by distinguishing 
between those things defended in the Lawes that have passed away and 
those that, in one form or another, have endured. The burden of this 
final essay has been to emphasize how closely the latter were bound 
up, in the Lawes, with the former — in particular, how closely Hooker's 
ideas of community and authority were bound up with a specific 
understanding of the human aims achievable in community. Hooker's 
vision of a Christian society as the acme of political association was 
inspired by a conception of human well-being as participation in the 
life of God. It is the fall from currency of this conception as much as 
Hooker's comprehensiveness in sixteenth-century terms that has made 
him steadily harder to understand. In his own time and for perhaps a 
century afterwards, there was predominant agreement in the West that 
human fulfillment lay in attaining, or being accepted by, God, through 
the incarnation of God's son. At the beginning of that period, it 
seemed necessary that one correct statement of this Christian faith be 
publicly proclaimed and implemented. But continuing conflict about 



that correct statement led to a clearer recognition that finding or being 
found by the Christian God was in essential respects an individual 
matter. The succeeding Enlightenment view was broader yet: the 
Christian God was no longer the sole acceptable basis for the world 
order, and eternal blessedness was challenged as a conception of 
happiness by more mundane ideals. Through various later shifts of 
cultural emphasis in which Romantic depth of feeling, physical plea- 
sure, self-reliance, personal development, prosperity, existential authen- 
ticity, psychological adjustment, and ideological rectitude have made 
their appeal, no proposal for the summum bonutn has entirely been 
dropped, but none has achieved broad acceptance, with the result that 
each retains a private following but none can assume an authoritative 
public office. The Church of England remains legally established but 
not in great comfort with that status. Some of its members would 
prefer to cut loose from the state, while those who would maintain a 
sense of more than institutional continuity with Hooker's ecclesiastical 
polity must draw heavily on inner resources and historical imagination. 
In the world at large, insistence on a dominant social role for religion 
is often intense, but such insistence jars with the equally intensely held 
modern values just sketched. 

It would be false to Hooker's own acute sense of circumstance to 
imagine that this process of fragmentation and privatization can or 
should be politically reversed. To the extent that the modern decline 
in a positive religious consensus has been due to warranted criticism of 
religion from the standpoint of natural science, sociology, economics, 
or simple morality, a sympathetic reader of Hooker must accept the 
resulting situation with good grace. To the extent that the decline 
stems from failure to interpret what is authentic in religion in terms 
appropriate to modern circumstances or from failure to keep faith with 
such authentic elements as do not submit to modernization, the 
damage can only be repaired by intelligence and holy living. Nothing 
in the Lawes suggests that any political maneuver will help. 

It would, however, be equally false to Hooker's conviction that one 
age can learn from another to end with such socially elegiac personal 
injunctions as these. Even in an age of private religion and morality, 
especially at a time of widespread tension between spiritual and secular 
values, the argument Hooker has constructed in the whole course of 


Book VIII 

the Lawes has public import. Hooker's argument demands that we 
think through and discuss our individual world views and moral 
principles in social terms. When individual values and beliefs create 
personal realities that lack all communication with one another, not 
only does the idea of a shared, communal "living well" lose content, 
but our personal commitments themselves tend to lose meaning. To 
be genuinely tenable as a matter of personal conviction, Hooker's 
argument suggests, a religious or philosophical position must in princi- 
ple offer a suitable focus of public devotion or respect and be a source 
of acceptable public policy. There must be a just political system in 
which it would be at home, and it must be possible to regard it as in 
some sense what all reasonable political association is concerned, 
perhaps unknowingly, to discover and promote. 

Talk of world views and individual moral principles would no 
doubt strike Hooker as sadly vague, compared with the convictions of 
a devout Reformation and Renaissance Christian. Conversely, talk of 
religion as part — indeed, the chief part — of the common good must 
strike his modern readers as threatening the private, best self. This is to 
say that Hooker is more challenging than immediately pleasing. That 
may be his greatest contribution to our welfare. 


The Royal Supremacy: The Growth of the Debate 

The following illustrations chart the germination and growth of debate about the 
last and weightiest issue treated in the Lawes, the English royal supremacy, the crown's 
"power of Ecclesiastical Dominion," the subject of Book VIII. The progression from a 
single sentence in the Admonition to the Parliament of 1572 to chapters, tracts, or books 
in later works is typical of other issues as well. 

2tn ^fbrnonttton to the parltomettr. 
fj02iatton they may be rdteueb by the pati$e,02 otbe* 
conuenient almes. 2(ab this as you fee, is the nigbefl 
parte of b,is office, anb yet you muft rnberfranb it to 
be in fudje places where there ts a Curate ario a £> ecu 
con:cuer? parifp can not be at that cofr to baue betbe, 
nayjno parifpe fb farre as can be <Jathereb,at this p2es 
fentp&fy. Xtoto tyen,if you will refloje ti)t church to 
l?is ancient of?Vcers,tbis you muff bo. jfc ftcc& of an y 
2Crc;>bjfpos? 02 Xost> bifpop^oumnft mare (r/)ec)ua: 2.CC2.10.7 
litieof miv.ifms. ^« fieabe of Cbattcelois^tcbbea: Cobff.r.i. 

tiers, cfyurd,»>arb€tt0,attb> htr.yeis baie to plat L3$ef x.i, 
»n?;;er? confirmation a lawful! anb d[oolf feign^Jte. 
<U;.' De«eo«$ip(V)mitfi not be ceafottttfcebxsii^ U;e y 
tnivvft cri?, :«02 the £o!ieCto28 fo: the pco2e, ttwpc not i.<Dm.j.$. 
*>f erpe tl;e £>?cco«8 cfficet&uttye tbatbot!; an($)oj* ^ $ 
fyce, miifklooft to ffyce, ont>euerjj matt muff e ^otiuj.? 
fe?e bimfelfe within the bowses anb limmttes of bis 1.(102.7.20* 
owne vocation. 2£«b to tbefe rkee toothy hat is^tbe 
lUvnijiffVS&etuozs, ar.b beaco«3,is tbevoiple tvgis 
mentofibe chmxbeto be committed. <£i;is regiment 
co« fmetl; e&edaBij m ccckft.-fh'cal bifoplme, vanity 
is an otber left by (Sob vito l)is chutes?, where? men 
leartte to frame rbetr wt'.les mt> doings aaxnbmg to 
fbeLiw of <£>ob,l'F (ajmfirttctmg it abmonifpmct one a 
mtotl;?r, rea anb fcp erecting and puni^a^aifw.k^fam.f.HJ 
full prrfanep, and contemners of the fame. <Df tl;is itfaUS.if 
bifcipline there is \xoo HnbeSjOne p2utate,wl;erewitb 
we willnotdealebecaufe it is impettineittto cur purs 
poison other pnblique,wbicb although, it bathe bene 
10*10 banif?ed,pei if >t might nexce at ti;e length, be t e* 
ffo2£bjS»o»Ib be very steceflary asib pzofrtable foz i>)e 
building vt> of <$ob's boufe.CLbe fatal end cf this t>:fi 

5. "And to these three ioyntly, that is, the Ministers, Seniors, and deacons, is the 
whole regiment of the churche to be committed" (lines 19—21). An Admonition to the 
Parliament of 1572 (STC 10848), sig. A6 r . 
i.Cor.7. ze. 

174- The an/were 

t?)e mim'Kerte,no^t^Coliectour^fa? tlje pooje 
map not bCurpe tljelDeacong office : but tje tf)at 
ftatt) an" office mud loofee tofrigoflHce,an& cuetp 
man muG fceepe fttmCelfe toitlun t^e bcn&eg ana 
limited of ijig otone location, 


j^citbcr DO tuc eonfounDe tfjcm, ana pet paule m tl)c 
place bt> n on quoted in tte margenf ,fpeafeet!) not one tooja 
ofconfounDtng, o;not confotmDtng trjcfe offices :&o tije 
pmt be i^ouiDco fo;, it fo;cctl> not, tuSjettjcr p joulfion be 
inat-cbp Deacons o^bpcollcctourSjbptbc one it map be 
well Doncbv tbe otter it cannot beoone tn al place«,a£ tbe 
Sate w noiue : H5ut flbetoe an? Scripture to p;one ttjat tlje 
jjcdjc muil onelp be p; ouioco fo; bp Deacon3,clfc not. 


SflnDto tbefe tlnee to^ntlp, tljat f£, tfje mini* 
fler&^enurcSanb ©eacon&igttje tofcoleresi* 
went of tije Cfcutcty to be committed. 

SDfcts is onels b? sou fet ootone toit&otrt p;©fe, t&ere* 
w . . , ^eau?tll^caret!ourrcafon0befoje3imabetouanftuere. 
^aufo- 3n m mcanc time 3 » 8 * * ou ***** au ^o;itte intucfo 

prince atu^o ^^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^^^ ^ ^^ ^ 

feeare poutobifpertljat tbe prince ftatbuo autfcojtne in 
rcclefiaatcall matters: 3! fenotoe it is areceruco opinion 
among Come of pou, ana tberein pou Cbafec fym w alfo tut& 
t&e Jfcwtaes,anD anabapttEcs. 


VW regiment confiftetlj efpecialty in eecle* 
fialltc&u DifcipHnej totyi$r i$ an o^Oer Itfte bv 

6. ". . . me thinke I heare you whisper that the Prince hath no authorise in ecclesiasticall 
matters: I knowe it is a receyued opinion among some of you, and therein you shake 
hands also with the Papistes, and Anabaptistes" (lines 23— 27). John Whitgift, An Answere 
to a certen libel intituled, An Admonition (1573, STC 25429; 1st edn., 1572), p. 174. 

*ppnter#of men be tljcp nnter fo foell learned 3nb if tbc matter aifo fbdutoe bt 
trpca bp the iubgement of men 31 am able to fbero tbe tubgement of as learneo 
as rbps age bath b;ougbtfo?tlj / 'S»l)tcI) tljinfectlj that tbe tnttitutfonof Smbbotoed 
is petpetuall / am> ougbt to be &bere it map be baa / ana Where fadj toibbowes 
arefounie, 31 n beebe tfjep are moderate now then in the Slpoftlestpmcs : JFox 
tben &p ttafon of the pc?fccutton/tbofc 5»b»cb bab tbe gift of contmencp/ bt>b ate 
trapne from manage after the bcatbof their bufbanbes/fo? that the fole Ipfefcas 
an carper cftate ana leffe baungerous anb chargeable icben tbep Soere niiutn to 
flpc/tbenthe cftate of rhofe &>btch 5»erc marpcb.ainto all tbe reft bntiU the race 
of tbe firft part or tbeabmonitton 31 banc anftctcrcb alrcbp* ytt tbereis a popnt, 
o?troo/a>htcb 31 »«"ft touct) iobcrof tbcfirftismthe*n6 + pagc/ft>bercbeteoul& 
beare men in b*na / tbat tbc autbo;s of the admonition ana Tome otbet of tbept 
tnpnbe/SooulD fljut out tbe cpuill magiftrate anb tbc £>?ince/ from ali autboiine 
in <S celcfiaftical matte rs,ii>btcb furtmfc although 3! fee it is not lb much becaufe 
epeher be ftnorcetb o? futpectctb anp fucb tying / as becaufe he meaneth beerebp 
to lap a baptc to cntrappe frith all/ rtjinKmg tbat frbere be mafeetb no conference 
tegcuehccaretbrrotfrhataurho?itpto#?mec0/ foefruibe lotbtogeucmtae 
tben the fr ojb of <5ob frill permtt/frherbp be hopetb to d?aa> bs into btfpleafurc 
frirb tbc #?ince : pet f o? becaufe be Ojali bnoer ftanbe/fr e noufh no oppmons fe* 
crctlp frtneb &e arc albameb to beciarc opcnlp/ a«b fo? ri)at fee boubt notef the 
equine of tbeptinee in thpspart/fe>bicb hnotoetb that although ber autbo?ttie be 
tl)e greatcft in tbe earth petit is not tnfmtte/buttslpmittcb bp tbc fro?b of #ob/ 
anb of frbomc fr e are perfoabeb that as ber maieftp fcnowctb / fo (bee frill not 
tonunflragtp beare the truth m tbps bebalfe/tbcfc tbmgs 3 fap being confibereb/ 
31 anf\»crc in tbc name of rbe autbo?s of tbe abmonitton / anb tbofe fome other 
fchtebpoufpeafeeof/ that the #?mce ana cpuffl magiftrate bath to fee/ that the 
lawes of <©ob touching hpsfrwfbippc/ anbtoucbmgall matters anb o?bcrs of 
the church be executed fbewlpobferued/ ftofctbatcucrpCcclcftafticaU pcrfon 
Cotbat office frbereunto he is appopnted/anb topumfb tbofe frlnchfaplein r!)eit 
office acco?binglp* aisf o? the making of tbe o?acrs 9 certmonpes of the church/ 
thep Doc(frberc tbcre is a conftitutcb anb o?dereb eburcb)pcrtapne onto the mp= 
Hitters of the eburri) anb to the ccclcftaftpcalt goucmoures/anb that as the? meds 
ale notfrtth rtjc malung of cputll lawes anb lawes fo? tbe common frealtb : fo 
« tty cpuill magiftrate bath not to o?bapnc certmonics pcrtapning to the c!) webe* 

21?ut if tbofe to frbomc that both appcrtapnc / make anp o?aers not meetc/ the 
magiftrate map anb ought to hpnber tbcm/anb b?puc then« to bctter/fo? fo mucb 
as tbccimil magiftrate bath tbps chargeto fee tbat notbing be bone agapnft rii« 
Slojpof <i£>ob in bps bompnion* 

^hpsbtftmctton if fll9»iDoctc?bnoi»etb not/no? barb not beara of/let b<m 

r»Cro»i9.8#n loobe intbe»2 t boo&e of tl;e Cbjomclcs/hc Cball fee/that tljereSoerc a number apa 

popntcb fo? the matters of the lLo?D/i»bicb i»cre p:teftcs anb leuites/ anb there 

Soere other alfo appopntcb fo? tbc &ingcs affaires anb fo? matters of tijc corns 

tnon Socaltb / amongft iobtcb Sucre the ILeuitcs/ &htcb beuig mc?c m number 

tben coulbe beapplpcb to the bfc of the churchc/ &cre fct ouer cpuill caufes/ be* 

tagthercfo?emoftfuvfo? that thep Soercbcft learnebin the lair cs of ©ob/ S»hKb 

Socre thepolmche lawes of that countrcp* Cbcrc be map learne if it plcafc hpm/ 

tbat thcmal>mgofo?bcrsanbgeutng of lubgnnentesincpuiUanb Ccclcfiuftt* 

: > call / in common tocaltb anb cimrcb matters / pertapneb bnto bpuers pnfons/ 

I?cb»5»u " S»bicb biftmction thciD?pter to rhc ^cb?cwcsboth note/S»hcn be fapttl; t^at the 

|5?ieft i»as o?bapncb m things pcrtapmng to d5ob»»i.dc chps migljt ^aifter JDocto? bane learneb bp that Subicbc tbc noble ems 

ri ra Conftant* pcro? * Conftantmc nttnburctb to t\)e fattjcrs of the l^iccne counccll anb to the 
cp»ad Eufeb* ^crlcfujfticaU perfcnstbeit gathcreb $ S»l;icl; be botb alft permit the UPpfbops/ 


7a, ". . . he hopeth to draw vs into displeasure widi die Prince:" (lines 18-19). The 
beginning of an indignant response to Whitgift's association of die Admonitioners 
with Roman Cadiolics and radicals. Thomas Cartwright, A Replye to An Answere made 
ofM. doctor Whxtgxjte (1573; STC 4712), p. 192 (reduced). 

iftlbers'/anb ©cacwfif of cfjtrttfjotf to ooe/cptbct bp u*. 
lung new if nccoc be* 3nt> bp tfjc contpniwUl pwettfc of tbc cburcb in tbe tpmt of • 

cl)?iftian <£ mpcrors / Sobfcb alompes perotittto bnto the rmmtttcro affembtco tn Sosom , u, t 
touncelleo / wi»dlt^cwtfrmpnattonofcontnnieri«ffS»ljtc^rorc/^t^ema= c^?»i7* 

Sing or tbe abolpfbing of nectjcfuli 031 tjurtfull ccrtmomes / as tbc cafe r cqtr.rcD* 
Jlfo bp tbe<£tiiptrourc0cpt(lle tn tbc nrft acnon of ttjc councdlof Conftanrmos 
pic fobjere bp tbe epiftie of tip <£ mpcro? ft oppcarctb/ that it i»as tbc manner of 2 .Tonucoti 
tbe O&mpcrourco to confirmc tbe orDtnatinees Sobttb tocrc tnaoe bp tbe tnpm= 5.Ub»cj>. ji* 
jeers/ana to fee tbcm fccpt*Cb« practifc oftbpobcmpgbt baue alfomoft plnpnlp 
fecnetn mmbrofc/*ob« Socio bp no mcance fuffcr tbat tbe caufeo of tbc eburcbeja 
IboulDbeOebatcD tntb«IDMncc0«nrvfto?po|i court/but tcouio bauetbembano* 
IcD m tbe cburcb'bp tl;ofetbat baO tip goutrnment of tt)c cburcb* ano tbcrcfor* 
trcufetb bpm felfc to tbc empcrour 3aafcntintan/f or tbat (being conuenteo to ana 
fvoerc of tbe cburcb matters/bnto tbe ciuill cotnt)be came not, 3&nO bp &>bom« 
tan t\)t matter© ano ojoero of tbe cburcb bee better oroapneo / tben bp tbc mpm* 
flers of tbe cburcb 1 2&nO tf tbatbc a goob reafon of j3j?aiftrr Doctor in tlje f o?ti4 
ano feucntb page/tbat tbc H&pfboppes ougbt tbcrefoj e to orbapnc mpniftcre/be* 
Caufe tbep arcbeft bablc to tubge of tbe learning ruib babplittt/of tbofetoljicb art 
tbcfptteft/iti0airoa0gootrcafon/tbattbcrrft^etbcmpni»ercanOgoucrnpur0 . . . 
tof tbc cburcb fbouR) appojmtanO Decree of fucb ccrcmonpcoanboroeroas per* 
tapne to tbe cburcb / for beeaufeitioto be fuppoftDtljat tbep enn beft tubge of 
tbofe jnattew/brfhraing tbepr ftubpco tbat toapco/ano furtber belt onoerttan* 
tmig tbreftatc of tbc cburcb about tbe tobttb tbe? arefcboip occuppeb.flnb tins 
to not ( fattier Doctor ) to fbafce banbto fcntb tbc paptftcs f ;ff or tbe papules 
fcouib cicentpt tbcir prieftcs from tbe fubiectton/anb from tbe punrfbment of tbe 
tputll magtftratc/febtcb fee boc not . 3nO tbe paptttcs fcoulo tbat Subattocuft 
tbe clcargp oorb betcrmpne/ tbat ttjat fo?tbwttb fboulo be botben for goob/ano 
tbc }3?wce fljouio be fo?tb»itb compcllco to mavntapne ant) fct fo^tb tbat/bee it 
5eoi c; cutll'toitbout furtber mquirp : but tocc tip tbat if tbere bee no lawfull 
inpntftcrp to fct gdoo o?Der0 (ao m ruinous Occapeo anO oucrtb?owe0 of relpgv= 
on)tbat tben tbe |S?mce ougbt to 00c it : ano if C &>bcn tberc 10a lawfull mpm« 
Uery)it fball agree of anp bnlatofuU oj bnmcetc o?Ocr/tbattbc ^;ince ougbt to 
ttap tbat ojioer/ano not to fuffcr it/but to Ditue tbcm to tbat &bicb t0 tawf uil ano 
trteete* 3no if tb?0 be to fbabe banBco feitb tbc paptftcs/ tben fil^atfter JDortojt 
is to blame/ tobwb batl) taugbt bo once 0? txwfc befoje / tbat tbe appointing of 
ceremonies of tbe cburcb/belongetb bnto tbc cburcb*3nO pet J fcnow rbattbert 
to one ojtroo of tbe later festers/ tbat tbinUcotbcTvrjfC/ but ao 3J take no aD« 
ttauntage of tbctr autbojrtie tobub tljmbe ao J 00c/ fo J ougbt not to be p?etu* 
fciceo bp tbofc/'tbat tbmbe otbetroife ♦ T)5ut fo? fo mucb ao &e bane ^4lDocto? 
»et of tljpo iuogement / tbat tbe cljureb cercmonico fbouloe bee ojtDapnco bp tbe 
cburcb/JB ioUl trauatlc no furtber in tbpo matter / confpoermg tl>at*be p?acttft 
of fbpo cburcb commonlp io to rcferre tbcfe mattcro bnto tbc ecclenafticall per* 
Ibno : onlp tbpo is tbc Difference/ tbat %ober e it to Done now of one o? a few/ Sort 
Ucfire tbat it mav be Done bp otbero alfo/S»bo baue Inter eft m tbat bcbalf e ♦ 

Cbc otber popnt 10 in tbc bnnojctb tbirtp ant» epgbt page / Sobere bw woa 
tmtruclp ano flatmocrouflp cbargctb tbe autbojo of tbe Xomoninon / ano ma* 
ttetb feonocrfull outcrpco of tbcm/ ao tbougb tljcp O)oulo ocnp tbat tberc baooe 
pecne anp reformation at all/ fprtjeno tbetpmttbattbc^lucencsmatcftpcbcii 
Son to raignc/manpf eftlp contrarp/ not onrtp to tbep? mcantng/but atfo to tbcpl 
perp too^Ds/tob^cb appeareti) in tbat tbcp mouc to a tbojougb reformation / J to 
contcnOe/oj to labour to pcrf ectton/bcnpmg onlp tbat tbe reformation Subicbbatb 
bcncmaOeinbcrmaiefticooapeB/iotborougbanopcrfccn JEeconfcfleiotUmgA 
lp/tbatncirtb»totbe|.ojoc©oi)/ cuerponcof bBiomoftbecpeipbounocbro* 

JDbth ¥«* . 

7b. Page 193 of Cartwright's Replye. 


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eleftajiical: Tract, the tyuelfth andtyuent'\th 7 
according to the D. page 6$\. 

g* HeFeysaproperpIace,where theD.(ifhe 
had bene abIe)should haue shewedjthati 
agreein this tdhfc y *»ith the Papifies : namely ia 
the end ofthistreatife, where I shew, how 
farl ftand from them in this behalf. How- 
nothing atal to mayntein him felf with, 
he hath, to fhiice a prejudice into the minde of the reader, 
and to fet(as itw;re)a bias of his Judgment, to draw it vnto 
his fide, here in the forefront let vp this vntrue accufation: 
whereunto Iwil anfwer,when I come to that place. Now foe 
better clearing of this matter-, the drftinftion betyuene trit 
church andcomon yuealth ynder a ChriJlianJWagiftrate, 
denied by hirh:is tobeconfirmedr 

Vuhertn as towchingthe autority of the word ofgod,bo- 
Cth ow t of the ouldTeltamet and then ue:I refer the reader, ( 

tothatwhichI a hauewritte.faurngthattheplaceoftheCr- JJrfi^Js 
onicles cometh afterto be towched again. In the churches ty. 7$5 . 
after the Apoftles , and that vnder godly Princes : the fame 
differece,hath bene diligetly obferued, by the ecclefiafHcal 
writers.Aswhenitisfaid,fWf/;f church and commony* **M;k*» 
ueahh \not onelyjujfer 'but jlorkh togither:kcping this di- s^yUr. 
ftin&ion,as wel in the churchis profperity,as in her aduerfi- 
ty.Mfo 7 b that the hoyufes of prayer , being resloredto the i imp* u. 
church : other places yuereadiudgedtc the yfiofthe com- p™* 
mo yuealth. Likew".fe, c that there u one caufe of the Trou- c Kug.ep.jt., 
ince: and another of